How to Prepare Lemongrass

How to Prepare Lemongrass

Many cooks have never cooked with Lemon Grass – what a shame!  Lemon Grass is an easy, zesty herb that packs a robust punch of flavor to many recipes. Lemon Grass has a plethora of health benefits, especially when paired with other flavorful spices such as Garlic, Coriander, and fresh Chilies.

Cooking with Lemon Grass is as easy as can be.

Simply cut off the lower bulb and remove the tough outer leaves.  Most recipes call for the main (yellow) stalk, though some cooks reserve the upper green stem to add to soups and curries for extra flavor. (more…)

Biblical Herbs: Mints in the Bible

Biblical Herbs: Mints in the Bible

Plants are first mentioned in the Bible in the first chapter of the first book: “Then God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind…” (Genesis 1:11). Throughout the ages, the Hebrews have attributed holiness to many species of plants. The Scriptures associate feasts, rites and commandments with many plants and their cultivation. Early written information about herbs is found in the Bible back to the time of Moses or even earlier. In Exodus 12:22 Moses tells the children of Israel how to save their children by using the herb and lamb’s blood. “And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin.” In Numbers 19:6, 18 hyssop is again mentioned. Also, in 1 Kings 4:33 God gave Solomon wisdom, “And he (Solomon) spoke of trees, from the cedar tree of Lebanon even to the hyssop that springs out of the wall…” Psalms 51:7 refers to this plant: “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” While pride is symbolized by the majestic cedar of Lebanon in Jewish tradition, the lowly hyssop represents modesty and humility. At least eighteen plants have been considered for the hyssop of the Bible, but modern botanists have generally agreed that Syrian majoram (Origanum syriacum) is the likely plant. It seems to fit well with these verses. It was used to cleanse homes defiled by leprosy or death and came to symbolize cleanliness. Its fragrance and taste led it to be prized by the ancient Romans and the Greeks before them. Bridges and grooms wore crowns made of marjoram. It was also quite likely prized in the kitchen, as it is now.

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Rare and Unusual:  Rau Ram – Vietnamese Coriander Summer Salsa Recipe

Rare and Unusual: Rau Ram – Vietnamese Coriander Summer Salsa Recipe

The Growers Exchange prides itself on our large and diverse offerings of plants; we are now selling over 175 different types of herbs and we are adding more each season! In addition to our ‘usual suspects’ we are known as a source for the more hard to find herbs, the rare and unusual. We love introducing our customers to these plants, as you will not find them in your big box garden centers, but they are a must have for gardeners that appreciate and support the broader offerings of the world of herbs.

An herb that we have grown for years, Vietnamese Coriander has been growing in popularity along with our exposure to and demand for more unusual foods from around the world. Also known as Rau Ram, this herb is well known in Vietnamese cooking. Often pronounced as ‘zow-zam’, it is used as a cilantro substitute ~ sort of a ‘citrusy cousin’! The taste is quite similar, but we find it to be more lemony, more peppery with a bit more punch! Actually, it is well known throughout Southeast Asia. In Malaysia, the plant is known as laksa and often served there as a condiment, along with basil. (more…)

Create Your Own Herb-Infused Simple Syrup Recipe

Create Your Own Herb-Infused Simple Syrup Recipe

Midsummer is the perfect time to begin using all of those herbs that are at their peak!  Almost any culinary herb that is currently in your garden will work, and the combinations are absolutely endless.

Basically, you are creating a flavored sweetener and how you use it is up to you.  A few of our favorite uses for an herb-infused simple syrup include:

  • Sweetening iced tea, lemonade and coffee
  • Added to any cocktail or mocktail (e.g. The Ultimate Mojito)
  • Drizzled over yogurt or ice cream
  • A substitute in any recipe that calls for water

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No Milkweed, No Monarchs: Why Asclepias Plants Are So Very Important!

No Milkweed, No Monarchs: Why Asclepias Plants Are So Very Important!

Although it won’t be official until mid-March, when the Mexican government releases the winter’s population count, ‘unofficial’ reports are anticipating a rather small migrating population. These unofficial reports are coming from the El Rosario Sanctuary in Mexico (see video example from 2016 at the end of this post); a site that can sometimes be the winter home for over 50% of the entire monarch population in Mexico. Reports and photos show butterflies densely covering approximately 18 trees. That’s good news, but last year, reports were that 50 trees were covered.

That’s not good news, but it is a call to action: PLANT MORE MILKWEED!

We’ve written a lot about pollinators, monarchs, and natives. We think that they are really important, so forgive any redundancy! A few things to keep in mind:

  • All Milkweed plants are Asclepias
  • Milkweed is the required host plant for monarch butterflies
  • Any loss in the population of milkweed means the loss of the monarch population
  • We are losing both at an alarming rate
  • The biggest threats come from urban development and agricultural intensification

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The New World: Medicinal Herbs in Colonial Times

The New World: Medicinal Herbs in Colonial Times

As much as I love growing herbs, I really love talking about them.  And, believe it or not, I get lots of nice invitations from lots of nice folks who don’t mind listening to me ramble for an hour or two.  My last show was for a group of truly dedicated gardeners at the Williamsburg Botanical Garden.  So, if you remember your American history classes, right around my farm is the birthplace of our nation.  Jamestown!  We even have a little competition going on about the site of the first Thanksgiving;  in theses parts, we claim it was at Berkeley Plantation, a mere 20 miles down the road.  But, I digress…

Bottom line: if you are speaking to a group of gardeners in Williamsburg, you better be prepared to toss in a bit of history so here goes;  as the early settlers began to colonize these shores, herbs were among the most important cargo.  Herbs for healing, herbs to improve the flavor a what would be considered a very bland diet, and herbs to disguise the smells that were a part of poor sanitation as well as spoilage.  Herbs were vital to the establishment of a thriving colony. (more…)