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Herbs are a good addition to Thanksgiving meals

Posted: November 20, 2011 - 1:09am
Green Thumb West employee Sandy Taylor displays some of the available herbs, which include rosemary, lavender, parsley and sage.  Photo by Jim Blaylock
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Green Thumb West employee Sandy Taylor displays some of the available herbs, which include rosemary, lavender, parsley and sage.

As families prepare to gather around the table this week, cooks are shopping for all the right ingredients to make their Thanksgiving dinners perfect.

Sometimes finding the best ingredients doesn’t require a trip to the grocery store. The use of fresh herbs from outdoor gardens and kitchen windowsills is becoming commonplace in meal planning.

“It’s good to have herbs in the garden, and better to actually make use of them,” says Master Gardener Mary-Louise Hagler of Augusta.

The flavor of fresh herbs can be subtle to pungent, depending on the use.

According to the Web site gardenguides.com, adding fresh herbs to a turkey is worth the extra effort. Doing so can add an extra depth of flavor. The site recommends using bay leaves, sage, thyme or rosemary in the cavity of the turkey.

“To create an herbal Thanksgiving, consider the herbs and spices typically associated with autumn – warm, zesty spices like ginger, cardamom and caraway, earthy fresh herbs such as sage, oregano and marjoram, and for desserts and beverages, the so-called sweet herbs, including mint, salad burnet and pineapple sage,” writes Melissa Jordan-Reilly.

Sweet potato and yam casseroles can be sprinkled with oregano and caraway before they go into the oven for a unique twist. A traditional Thanksgiving dinner might also include an onion-sage dressing.

For desserts, fresh grated ginger adds a special touch to pumpkin pies or gingerbread recipes, while mint sprigs can add an elegant effect to most desserts.

Using herbs in holiday recipes has an added benefit of reducing sodium, according to a publication of the University System of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service.

“Herbs add gusto to foods and beverages, as well as special garnishes,” writes UGA Extension Horticulturist Wayne McLaurin and Master Gardener Sylvia McLaurin. “Herbs also work well as substitutes for part or all of the salt normally added to foods. Dried herbs are generally stronger, though less zesty, than fresh herbs.”

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