Whether you buy them potted or cut, to cook with or for garnish, fresh herbs will take your everyday dishes to the next level.
Colour is indicative of freshness, so look for bright herbs with no wilted or browning leaves, and go for bunches with a strong perfume. Wrap cut herbs in damp paper towel and keep chilled.
The easiest way to chop herbs is to put them in a cup and snip with scissors. To remove the leaves from a woody stem, simply hold it at its tip and run your fnger and thumb down its length.
Woody herbs, such as rosemary and thyme, are robust, so they’re great for flavouring the base of a soup or stew. Soft herbs, such as mint and coriander, are best added at the last minute.
Known for its clean, citrussy taste, coriander is a wonderful flavour enhancer. Chop up the edible stems for cooking and use the leaves as a garnish.
With its small green leaves, thyme is as pretty as it is versatile. Team it with lemon and garlic for a delicious roast chicken, or add it to soups, stews and more. Feeling bold? Rustle up some honey and thyme ice cream.
Commonly used in Italian cuisine, basil has a strong, slightly sweet flavour. It’s great with tomatoes or whizzed in a blender with pine nuts, Parmesan, garlic and olive oil to make a classic pesto. Avoid chilling as it can turn the leaves black.
Identified by its long, velvety leaves and pungent, musky scent, sage has an intense, earthy flavour. Try it with butternut squash or fry it in butter for a deliciously crisp garnish for gnocchi or risotto.
This highly aromatic herb is a perfect match for roast meats, such as lamb and beef. It’s also a hit with roasted veg, particularly spuds (but don’t eat the woody stem).
Feathery, fronded dill has a fragrant aniseed flavour. It’s great in beetroot soup or with fish, such as smoked salmon and roasted sea bass. Or use it in a pickling juice for cucumbers.
Meet the expert: Claire Walker, Tesco Product Quality Manager for herbs
Why is spring such a good time for British herbs?
During the warmer seasons, herbs grow in abundance in the UK, which means we can stock our shelves full of fresh British varieties. The British climate can be a little unpredictable during the winter months, so we source some cut herbs from abroad.
What are the benefts of buying potted herbs over cut varieties?
If you use fresh herbs regularly, a potted plant will ensure you have a constant supply of your favourite leaf – simply snip as required. What’s more, our potted herbs are 100 per cent British, all year round. Cut herbs are great if you plan to use the whole amount in one or two recipes.
How can you prevent herbs going to waste?
We’ve teamed up with Love Food Hate Waste to advise customers on how to make use of leftover herbs – look for the tips on packs. One idea is to freeze chopped herbs in ice-cube trays with water, so you'll always have fresh herbs to hand.
Do you have a favourite herb?
It would have to be coriander, especially in a Thai curry [see our Thai green curry recipe]. I like to mix it through the rice to deliver extra flavour – and it looks pretty impressive, too.
Embrace herbs this spring and turn them into this delicious Herb nut butter, a great dairy-free alternative that takes only 15 minutes to prepare.
As featured in Tesco Magazine April 2015.