How To Grow Fresh Herbs in Your Kitchen All Winter Long
I love using a variety of herbs to spice up my cooking. As versatile as they are delicious, there are endless uses for fresh herbs — there’s no better topping on a plate of pasta than fresh basil, and rosemary and thyme make any marinade more flavorful. Up until now, however, I’ve always relied on store-bought herbs, since I could never seem to make any freshly planted seeds last. But that all changed when I got the greatest gift I’ve ever received: an indoor herb garden.
One of my biggest gripes with winter is how it kills any hint of green outside and makes all my house plants go dormant. While I have no problem keeping my plants alive inside, it’s harder to find fresh herbs at farmers markets during winter, and the store-bought ones always seem to start wilting too fast. Plus, using fresh herbs gives us more health benefits with every bite, since they haven’t been treated to survive any traveling to stores.
This winter, my indoor herb garden has been the solution to my woes! It makes all kinds of herbs grow so fast. Like, so fast that I almost don’t know what to do with all the fragrant goodies.
But the best part is how self-sufficient it is. The AeroGarden model I have (Buy from Amazon, $119) uses a water filtration system that regularly pumps water through different seed pods that have just enough soil to make them sprout. The roots then grow into the water, meaning I don’t have to worry about adding more soil or fertilizer. Instead, the garden has sensors telling me when it’s time to add water, and when they need more of their specially-made plant food. That means very little work or worry from me to keep them growing!
This is how my indoor herb garden looked in the middle of a cold front in Chicago. As you can see, it’s totally unaffected by the weather. That’s thanks to the LED grow light on top, which moves up and down depending on how big your harvest is.
How To Use Fresh Herbs
Now that you have all kinds of herbs growing quickly, what can you do with them? The garden I have came with seeds for Genovese basil, curly parsley, dill, thyme, thai basil, and mint. That’s a great combination with many possible uses in a variety of dishes, but I’ve found that thinking outside the box helps me use my herbs to their fullest potential. Below are some things I’ve tried and loved.
Pesto: If your basil is overflowing, then it’s time to make some pesto! This will use up your latest harvest and add more flavor to a ton of dishes. Most recipes combine basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, and parmesan cheese. I used this one last time and it was delicious.
Herb Compound Butter: This one’s my favorite since it’s so easy, delicious, and versatile. All you have to do is grab a stick of butter and chop up a bunch of herbs. Let your butter soften to room temperature (use this simple trick if you don’t have time to wait!) and combine with the herbs you choose, plus a little salt. I also usually add some minced garlic for an extra kick.
My latest one (above) combined basil, thyme, and parsley, since those three were growing faster than the rest of my herbs. But you can use any combination that complements your meal plan for the week. I even rolled the butter back into the parchment paper it comes in for a no-waste, no-mess solution. It’s so easy, and so delicious!
Dill Sauce: The garden I have came with dill, and let me tell you, that one grows fast. I’m always having to trim it, as the rest of the herbs don’t grow as quickly or as tall. That means I’m often looking for ways to use fresh dill, and I’ve discovered a simple sauce is the best addition to so many recipes. It goes well on anything from salmon to chicken to cucumber sandwiches. All you need is dill, sour cream, mayonnaise, and a bit of lemon juice and salt to whip up this recipe. Whisk it all together and use it to top your weekly dinners. It gives any meal a refreshing boost!
Fresh herbs just taste better, and having an indoor herb garden is the best way to keep them growing year-round.