Thanksgiving Herbs from Your GardenNovember 26, 2013
It’s that time again to talk about Thanksgiving herbs in the garden! We’re digging through our garden beds, foraging for herbs and other edible bits to serve on our Thanksgiving table. It looks like our yet-to-really-freeze garden will easily yield a bounty of fresh herbs to season our turkey, stuffing, and no-tater-mash, which will include freshly dug sunchokes from our beds.
Too, our garden has enjoyed a light brush with with frost, which has sweetened carrots that continue to grow. But, the chill hasn’t bothered baby greens flourishing in our Hugelkultur cold frame. Those will be extra tasty as our first course.
Before you put “poultry seasoning” on your last minute grocery list, consider our list below of what your garden may already have growing to flavor your holiday meal.
I’ve been entertaining family for over a week now and having a blast doing it. Getting herbs from the garden for our Thanksgiving table is just one part of the fun!
This morning, as I harvested a batch of veggies to take in for our weekly garden food bank donation, I shared with my step-mom many of the delicious perennial herbs growing in the garden. We planned our harvest for my turkey and for her stuffing recipes for tomorrow. Before you run out to the grocery store and endure long lines to grab a jar of dried sage powder for your turkey, make a quick inventory of the fresh herbs still available in the garden. Guaranteed you’ll love the taste of the fresh, tasty herbs from your own space. Not sure what to look for, read on for more ideas:
(Original Post from November 27, 2008)
In my experience, most gardens in the Pacific Northwest contain at least a few herbs. Whether the garden has a formal herb garden or is a hodge-podge of plantings, odds are a few woody herbs are included in the mix. Before you run to the store and plunk down several dollars for a plastic container with a few semi-fresh sprigs of thyme, rosemary or sage, I encourage you to consider taking cuttings from your garden instead. Or, if you don’t have a garden, take a walk and ask your neighbors for permission to take a few cuttings. Plus, herbs fresh from the garden are by far more tasty than their dried counterparts.
There are a few specific herbs you’ll find in the garden that are used in the traditional holiday meal (as well as a few others you may want to try a little later):
- Thyme: It may seem like a lot of work to strip tiny leaves from wiry thyme branches, but why bother stripping them before cooking? The stems are insignificant and easy to remove after cooking. Plus, they make great ties for a bouquet garni that can be set inside a roasting bird to infuse it with fantastic flavor.
- Rosemary grows like mad in our area (and many others), and it only takes a little to freshen up a room or add fantastic flavor to your side dishes. Consider blending a bit in with roasted squash dishes.
- Lavender: Lavender may seem like an unlikely cooking herb, but it can add unique flavor to your dishes. Just use it very sparingly! A dash added to potatoes adds a bit of summer to your meal — as well as some fun color. But really, be careful or your dish may taste a bit soapy.
- Parsley: Parsley plugs right through our winters producing tasty, pungent flavor. The stems are great for tying up herb bundles and they can be used for cooking in less visible areas and in items where their tougher tissues will break down during cooking. Save the pretty leaves to chop into salads, salad dressings and mix into herb rubs.
- Sage: No thanksgiving meal would be complete without sage. Sage is a main ingredient in poultry spice mixes. Instead of spreading a dusty powder all over the bird or in your stuffing, consider chopping sage with thyme and parsley and rubbing the bird with this combo for a fresh local taste. And, purple and yellow sages look lovely in a vase over the kitchen sink if you pick too much!
- Oregano: Oregano is probably plugging along in the garden nicely. I don’t use it for many Thanksgiving dishes, but when it comes to getting creative with leftovers, adding in a new taste sensation like oregano to an herb crust for your turkey pot pie may make things different enough that nobody tires of the “same old thing”.
As I write this, I’m visiting family in Los Angeles. Out in my parents’ herb garden I’m envious to see fresh basil and a few yellow pear tomatoes. I may have to break with tradition and create a bit of bruschetta just because I can.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!