Uses For 7 Popular Herbs

June 7, 2011

If you have a few established herbs, you might be wondering what to do with all that lush growth that they’ve produced. Listed below you’ll find a mixture of cooking, craft and skincare ideas to inspire you to use chives, lavender, basil, coriander, lemon balm, rosemary and thyme.


  • harvest, chop finely and use in omelettes, potato dishes eg potato salad, sprinkle on salads, mix with steamed peas – but add at the last minute to retain their flavour and be generous.

  • chop and freeze in containers or ice cube trays filled with water for later use.

  • harvest flowerheads and dry for flower arrangements (be warned, the seeds fall out all over the place as they dry!)

  • Add to herb sauces

  • Make a chive herb butter

  • Stir into yoghurt or cream cheese with some seasoning and lemon juice for a gentle onion flavoured dip.

  • Try with fish and vegetable dishes.

  • Lavender

  • When using in cooking do so sparingly because it is a strong flavour.

  • Dry for decorative use – hang upside down and tie 5 to 7 stems together. Dry in a dark, dry, airy place.

  • Once dry, use flowers to scent clothes by placing in a drawstring fine mesh bag or sewing into a lavender pillow/piece of muslin and hanging in your wardrobe. Alternatively, just wrap in some fine cloth and tie with string or ribbon.

  • Use dried flowers to flavour sugar to use in baking.

  • Use fresh flowers for cakes, pastries or make some lavender biscuits.

  • Lavender can be used to flavour ice cream.

  • Make some lavender wands.

  • Basil

  • Make pesto

  • Try a leaf or two with cold meats eg ham

  • Sounds odd but it goes well with strawberries, raspberries and blueberries too.

  • The classic combination is of course with tomatoes either in salads, sauces, soup, with garlic on breads or in stuffings with butter.

  • Add a few leaves to a salad.

  • Try making basil butter.

  • Add a few leaves to pasta dishes or egg dishes.

  • Coriander

  • Experiment in the kitchen adding it to dishes containing avocado, fish, citrus fruits, rice, root vegetables. It can also be combined with basil, chillies, chives, dill, galangal, garlic, ginger, lemon grass, mint or parsley.

  • Freeze in containers to use later.

  • Use in tomato dishes, salsa and dips

  • Sprinkle chopped coriander onto salads, chicken and pork dishes.

  • Dried coriander seeds can be dry roasted and ground and used in cakes, biscuits and root vegetable dishes.
  • Lemon Balm

  • Blend fresh leaves into smoothies for a mild lemon-mint flavour.

  • Try it with fish/poultry in marinades, sauces or stuffings.

  • Add leaves to green, tomato or fruit salads.

  • Use to make a herb butter.

  • Try a few sprigs in recently boiled water for a lovely relaxing tea.


  • If pruning an older bush, use some of the thicker stems (soaked in water first and leaves stripped off) as BBQ skewers

  • Use an infusion as a hair rinse and tonic.

  • Use it in your cooking – it helps your memory according to this article.

  • Tastes delicious with fresh oranges or can be made into a syrup to add to fruit salads.

  • Use it in foccaccia and other breads.

  • Use it to flavour oil.

  • Freeze the tiny flowers in ice cubes to make a pretty garnish for summer drinks.


  • Use dried thyme in potpourris and sachets

  • Use to season tomato sauces, potatoes, peppers, cabbage.

  • One of my favourites is to add a few sprigs of thyme to steamed or roasting carrots or to flavour onion soups. Yum!

  • Add fresh leaves to salads

  • Make a thyme herb butter – great for melting onto hot vegetables or meats.

  • Flowering thyme can be used to make a lovely herbal tea.

    Now, I’ve told you what you can do, but not ‘how’ in detail so if you want to send me a quick email or leave a comment telling me which one or which other herbs you want more detail on, I’ll make the most popular requests the subject of my next few blog posts.

    Alternatively, let me know which one you’re going to try and how you get on in the comments below.

    Copyright 2009-2011 Madeleine Giddens All rights reserved.

  • { 1 trackback }

    Harvest Kitchen Herbs «
    07.24.11 at 4:12 pm

    { 4 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Jane 06.08.11 at 3:18 pm

    Hi Madeleine, I really enjoyed this article for reminding myself how to use these herbs! One question – how do you suggest it is best to freeze coriander? It sounds a good idea, as it bolts so easily.

    2 maddles 06.10.11 at 4:14 pm

    Hi Jane, Glad you found the article useful. I usually wash and chop the coriander roughly then put in ice cube trays to freeze. Once frozen, pop them out and place in a freezer bag and just take cubes out as needed. Obviously it won’t be any good as a garnish though after freezing it. You can just freeze it in a freezer bag. Haven’t tried it in a herb butter yet but that would be another way. Yes, it does bolt easily although there is a variety that claims to be slower to bolt!

    3 Jackie Elton 06.16.11 at 4:19 pm

    I love your blog. One thing I was wondering is when is the best time to start planting a herb garden. My old herb garden was round the back of the house and I am planning to have one at the front of my garden close to the kitchen door, but not sure when to get going with it.

    4 maddles 06.24.11 at 1:11 pm

    Hi Jackie,
    Thank you for your kind comment. There’s still plenty of time to get your herb garden established especially if you bought in some herb plants. It depends which herbs you were thinking of. Annuals such as coriander and dill can be started from seed in March/April, Basil can be started from May but all can be sown in succession throughout the season and normally take about 6 weeks to get to a size where you can harvest them.

    If you wanted perennials like rosemary, lavender, thyme sage it would be easier and probably more rewarding in terms of being able to use them this year to purchase some plants to give you a head start.

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