Common Culinary Herbs
In ode to common culinary herbs.
Poem by John Keats, ” Endymion” (1818)
Ah, Zephyrus ! art here, and Flora too !
Ye tender bibbers of the rain and dew,
Young playmates of the rose and daffodil,
Be careful, ere ye enter in, to fill
Your baskets high
With fennel green, and balm, and golden pines.
Savory, latter-mint, and columbines,
Cool parsley, basil sweet, and sunny thyme ;
Yea, every flower and leaf of every clime.
All gather’d in the dewy mom : hie
Away ! fly, fly !
What Are Herbs?
There are many ways to define the word herb.
In the broadest sense, an herb is defined as a “useful plant”. But one has to wonder what is the difference between a useful plant and one that is not. In the botanical sense, an herb is “any seed-bearing plant which does not have a woody stem and dies down to the ground after flowering.”(1) Another definition describes herbs as “any plant or plant part that has historically been used for medicinal, culinary or fragrance purposes.”(2)
Based on the aforementioned definitions, just about any flowering plant, which is not a bush or tree, is an herb.
Hundreds of plants would fit this definition.
Because of this, it is necessary to separate the edible ones from the toxic ones. We often call these common culinary herbs, or kitchen herbs.
What Are Common Culinary Herbs?
Common culinary herbs are the leafy green or flowering parts of plants that are valued in the kitchen due to their savory or aromatic properties to enhance the flavor of food. They are used either fresh or dried—but distinct from spices. Spices are usually produced from other parts of the plant, including seeds, berries, bark, roots and fruits.