There's no better way to add the freshness of spring -- and a blast of flavor -- to a dish than to use fresh herbs! Fortunately for us here in Hawaii, fresh locally grown herbs are readily available, enabling us to easily enhance our favorite recipes.
One of the widest selections of herbs from a single Hawaii farm comes from Maui's Evonuk Farms, a family run business started by Edward and Joan Evonuk in 1975. As their farm grew, the Evonuks decided to specialize in herbs to meet growing demand from customers. Their son Walter and his wife Terry Chang joined the business in 2007 and today, one third of the Evonuk farm team is made up of family members.
The Evonuks grow more than 20 different varieties of herbs year round on their 40 acre farm in Kula and their products are sold under the Maui Herb Gardens label. They cultivate the classics -- parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme -- as well as lesser known herbs such as sorrel, chervil, and marjoram. All herbs are harvested by hand daily to ensure customers receive the freshest product.
Here are some interesting facts you may not know about herbs:
Lift Your Spirits: The scent of herbs can be a mood-lifter! "A roomful of herbs is a pleasant atmosphere to work in," share the Evonuks. “There's nothing like the smell and flavor of fresh cilantro!"
For Your Health: Herbs have long been known to be medicinal in nature. Their disease- fighting properties come from polyphenols -- plant compounds with powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Old fashioned teas and tisanes made with herbs are effective cold cures. You could also try this: bring 1-2 cups of water to boil in a pot, remove it from the heat and add two teaspoons each of thyme, rosemary, and oregano. Cover with lid for five minutes; then remove lid and put your face over the pot with a towel covering your head to hold in the heat and breathe in and out deeply for several minutes to relieve congestion.
Fast Blast: Terry advises that fresh herbs are best for dishes that are cooked quickly "because some of the flavor compounds can be lost during cooking. Dishes that will simmer a long time can benefit from dried herbs."
Keep them Around: Drying is not the only way to preserve herbs for future use. You can actually freeze them for later! Wash and chop your herbs, then freeze them with water in an ice cube tray. Once frozen, pop them out and store in a freezer bag. Then just thaw and use as needed to add bright, fresh herb flavor to recipes.
Keep the Bugs Away: Put your fresh herbs to use to repel pesky insects. Sprinkle crushed peppermint near an ant trail to break the chemical trail ants use their "army" to follow them. Or try using an herb bouquet made of basil, lemongrass and/or peppermint to help keep flies and mosquitoes from your table.
Did You Know?
Herbs and spices are not synonymous and the words should not be used interchangeably. Herbs are plant leaves and may be fresh or dry. Spices, on the other hand, come from any part of a plant besides the leaves -- roots, stems, berries, seeds, flowers, etc and are typically dried. Interestingly, plants with seeds and leaves that are edible -- such as dill -- are both herbs and spices!
Basil Cilantro Chimichurri
This herbaceous sauce is excellent served over grilled meats and fish. Foodland's Chef Keoni says, “My favorite way to use this is to serve it with a thick, juicy, grilled steak!”
1/4 cup (packed) fresh local basil
1/4 cup (packed) fresh local cilantro
4 garlic cloves, peeled end removed
1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
Puree all ingredients in a food processor to desired consistency. Transfer to a bowl and serve at room temperature. Best made fresh and used the same day.
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