The cooler months seem to make you crave more hearty meals. This is the time to discover new recipes (or go back to old ones). It’s dark outside, so cooking is a fantastic way to keep you preoccupied during Autumn and Winter. It is this time of year that is usually most associated with food. Christmas is soon approaching and people are already starting to worry about the most important meal of the year! You can make the meal all the more special by adding your own home-grown herbs. All your family is sure to be delighted. This is also the best time to invite some friends over for a dinner party. A cosy night in with a bottle of wine is sublime as the rain pours outside. It’s also the perfect way to remain sociable, whilst being in the comfort of your own home. Let’s face it, no one wants to leave their home right now. However, your friends can easily be persuaded to come over if you serve up a delicious meal. Herbs are an excellent way to enhance the flavour of your dish. You can impress your friends by showing off your fresh herbs. Having a section dedicated to fresh herbs in your kitchen will also enhance your home’s interior. If you’re an avid gardener who has just moved to Malta, you may be disappointed at the lack of opportunities you have before you. But, fear not! Having a designated spot in the kitchen for herbs will serve as an exemplary replacement. Even if you’ve never looked after any plants before, herbs are an ideal way to get started. They’re very easy to tend to. Here are some tips and tricks.
How to Look After Your New Herbs
Once you bring your new herbs home, go ahead and place them on the windowsill. A south or southwest facing window will serve as the best location. It’s important that your herbs receive direct sunlight. When it's not raining, there's plenty of that to go around in Malta. Your herbs won’t be short of any sunlight over here. In fact, make sure to monitor your herbs as too much sunlight can kill them. They can easily dry up and turn yellow. This will lose the flavour of the herbs. If you prefer to place your herbs somewhere else, then a fluorescent light will also do.
My rule of thumb when it comes to watering is to test out the soil beforehand. If the soil remains moist, then you do not need to water your herbs. You should ensure that the first layer of soil is slightly dry before watering. Most of the time plants tend to wilt due to too much water. There is such a thing as overwatering your herbs. This can easily be avoided by just checking the soil before you blindly water them. Usually, herbs only require water sparingly. Add some fertiliser from time to time if you wish.
Eventually, you’ll need to repot your herbs to ensure there is enough space for their roots to grow. This isn’t difficult. Just place your herbs in a bigger pot and pack some more potting mix in. You don’t have to stick to boring, old pots either. You can make your windowsill beautiful by purchasing decorative pots, or paint them yourself if you're the artsy type, give them your own personal touch!
Once you get the hang of caring for your herb plants, why not try growing them from seeds? This will ensure you always have an endless supply of herbs. This can also be a fun challenge for you!
Top 5 Herbs to Grow in Your Kitchen
Now that we’ve gone over the care instructions, it’s time for the fun part. Choosing your herbs will be dependent on what sort of meals you cook. It’s best to start with one until you get the hang of it. But, in the future, why not purchase a range of different herbs? Maybe you’re fearless and want to start with a collection straight away. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your new herbs when it comes to cooking. Fresh herbs are so much better than just grabbing those old bottles you’ve had on your rack for months (dare I say, years)!
Probably one of the easiest herbs to take care of. It is known for its subtle peppery flavour. Basil has a strong smell which will enhance your meals before the first bite. It is also the main ingredient found in pesto. This herb is extremely popular amongst Italian dishes. Be sure to add your finely chopped basil towards the end of your cooking to retain its flavour. This herb is ideal for pasta dishes, especially combined with tomatoes.
Parsley is added to a meal to help balance the flavour. It is often understated, but only because it’s the easiest herb to use. It’s the ideal herb to start off with if you’re just getting to grips with your cooking skills. This is the most versatile herb. It goes well with almost every dish.
Dill offers quite a unique flavour. It has a distinctive combination of lemony, sweet and even slightly bitter notes. Due to its strong flavour, dill is best served to compliment only certain dishes. It is well known for accompanying more pickle flavoured meals. This herb is also ideal for fish dishes due to its lemony taste.
This is another great herb, enjoyed for its woodsy tang. Due to this reason, the colder seasons are the ideal time to make the use of oregano. It is best to use this herb towards the end of the cooking time, so that it retains its flavour. This herb is ideal with soups, stews and casseroles – perfect for Winter!
Rosemary is quite a strong herb, known for its earthy taste. It can be quite difficult to cook with this herb at the beginning. Too much rosemary can ruin a meal. But, don’t be afraid to experiment. Once you’ve grasped how to work with it, you’re going to make some outstanding dishes. This herb is ideal with meat dishes and also blends in nicely with potatoes.
There you have it! Growing these five herbs will make your meals more exquisite. The dried herbs you buy from a store just aren’t as flavoursome. Experimenting with fresh herbs is also more fun. Having a small herb section in your kitchen will brighten up your home. As already mentioned, there are all sorts of pots you can buy out there. Add a touch of your personality. Growing your own herbs is sure to add something special to your home. Why not try some traditional Maltese dishes whilst you discover new recipes? There are a wealth for you to try. These particular herbs go splendidly with Mediterranean dishes as well. Malta has some great cuisine to try. Are you thinking of relocating to Malta to get a ‘taste’ of that Mediterranean life? Be sure to get in touch with one of our sales specialists at Zanzi Homes. They’ll be happy to guide you all the way with a professional and excellent service.