CULINARY HERB, STEVIA & PEPPER PRODUCTION

Our herbs make everything else taste good!

There are thousands of plants in nature that can be used in the kitchen and for wellness. We grow many of them at our farm! I have been growing herbs for over 30 years in urban, rural and even desert conditions.

Herbs are easy plants to grow, but because of the number of varieties, can be difficult to understand where to use them. The varieties we have chosen are ones which we know will do well in the micro-climate we deal with but also are the ones we know how to use in a variety of ways and know how to teach others to use. Some of the places we use herbs may surprise you!

We have tried to introduce 2-3 large areas each year for more herb production. Most of our herbs are perennial plants which have been propagated from our original plants in the city, moved from the city and split or started from seed in the gardens at the farm. Many of the herbs we grow each year are also annuals such as basil and stevia. We treat the annual stevia and our hot peppers much the same as we do all of our other herbs, meaning it is propagated, grown from seed or obtained from nearby local growers.

Skip to Culinary Herb Plant List.

All of our herbs are cared for without the use of pesticides or chemicals. We use natural remedies for typical plant problems. As part of our integrated pest management program we use companion planting, a technique used to encourage or discourage pests by installing herbs and flowers that either encourage or discourage these pests. With the herbs & spices we forage, we try to stay aware of what is going on in the environment as well as with the water supply around our farm. We follow Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) practices to keep our forest healthy. It is a large part of our farming operation as we see what the forest produces as just as important as what we cultivate. Read about our Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) practices here.

Our herb gardens are scattered around the farm. In some places we have 50 foot rows, other places we have large whimsical gardens that herbs lend themselves to. Many of our medicinal herbs are thriving in woodland gardens we have established. Some of the herbs and spices we use and sell are foraged.

B
O
O
K
S
Rosemary Gladstar's Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner's Guide: 33 Healing Herbs to Know, Grow, and Use
A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs: Of Eastern and Central North America (Peterson Field Guides)
Peterson Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs of Eastern and Central North America, Third Edition (Peterson Field Guides)
The Spice and Herb Bible
Cooking With Herbs: Bring distinctive fresh takes to your food with the fragrance of herbs

HARVESTING AND PROCESSING
The beauty of an herb garden is that when you harvest, you are helping the plant by encouraging new growth with each cutting. We harvest as early as May and as late as Thanksgiving with the majority of the harvesting happening in July and August.

We harvest small bunches of herbs 5 to 10 stems in a bunch. All of our herbs are air dried in the loft of the barn. Nothing hi-tech. A bunch of herbs, a rubber band to hold them together. Strings attached to the beams of the barn to air dry the rubber banded bunches. Berries such as spicebush berry and sumac are dried on wooden frames with screens.

It takes two to three weeks of air drying then they are placed in plastic tubs and processed by "hand" through sifting screens for the desired texture for cooking or for tea. We use a variety of spice mills and grinders to get the varying textures we need for our herb mixes. Generally herbs are ground as we need them, though we do keep a supply of cut & ground herbs on hand for our busy growing times! Anything not immediately needed for production is stored in large glass jars.

STEVIA PRODUCTION
Stevia comes from the leaf of Stevia Rebaudiana Bertoni also known as Sugar Bush is a herb native to Paraguay. Stevia sweetens with almost zero calories, does not encourage cavities and is non-glycemic. Stevia has a long history of safe usage in Asia and South America. In its raw leaf form stevia is 10 to 15 times sweeter than cane sugar. Stevia can be used a lot of the places cane sugar is. Because Steve has a negligible effect on blood glucose, it is attractive as a natural sweetener to people on carbohydrate-controlled diets.

The white stevia powder you may have found at the grocery store is from a water extraction process. The resulting product is granulated and about three times sweeter than the green powder. We offer the natural unprocessed handmade green powder which comes straight from the plant.

Stevia is grown as an annual on our farm. We take and root cuttings from large previous year production plants set aside for this purpose. Stevia is very difficult to grow from seed and often is not as sweet as the rooted cuttings. Once the stevia plant is mature, or about 12" tall, we generally can take 3 to 6 “cuttings” of our plants in a season for drying. The cuttings are air dried in the barn and then crumbled and stored in glass jars .

HOT PEPPER PRODUCTION
We grow hot peppers for several of our herb blends, primarily thai pepper and cayenne, but expanded our varieties in 2013. They are compact plants which provide much to harvest if you know the secrets to hot pepper farming! Knowing what your soil is all about we have found is the secret! In addition to our dried herb blends we now make traditional hot pepper sauces, hot pepper mustard, hot pepper powder and a hot pepper jam as well.

Scorpion

Habanero

Thai

Cayenne

Paper lantern

You can read about the herb products we bring to market here.

You can read about the medicinal & wellness herbs grown at the farm here.


CULINARY HERBS PLANT LIST

Below is a listing of our culinary herbs and how to use them.

American Allspice
(Lindera benzoin,
)

(wild allspice, spicebush berry)
Flavor is like allspice or cinnamon.
Foraged
Borage
(Borago officinalis)

Fresh tastes like cucumber. Use in salads or cream soups.
Annual
Basil
(Ocimum basilicum)

One of the basics in the kitchen. Minty like flavor. Best paired with tomatoes.
Annual
Chamomile
Chamaemelum nobile(P)
Sweet smelling, daisy like flowers sit atop thin stalks and leaves. Tastes like green tea. Use in salad dressings, enhances soups. Perennial
Chervil
(Anthriscus cerefolium)
In French cooking, it is one of the four herbs, in the blend “fines herbes”. Sweet mild anis flavor use on fish, soups.
Annual

Dill
(Anethum graveolens)
Unique flavor, the taste predominately associated with pickles, used in pickling, enhances eggs, fresh green beans.
Annual
Lavender
(Lavandula x intermedia 'provence')
The key to dried Herbs de Provence. Best used with white fish, poultry, desserts.
Perennial
Lemon Balm
(Melissa officinialis)
Adds lemon flavor to anything you want it to.
Perennial
Lovage
Leaves and stalks are used. Stronger version of celery. Use in soups, poultry, salads. Use half as much as you would celery. 
Perennial
 
Mexican Mint
(Tagetes lucida)
Mild anise flavor, can be substituted for French tarragon in cooking. Complements chicken, fish, veal and lamb.
Annual
Mint
(Mentha spp.)
Adds zip to many chocolate desserts, makes a great tea and you can't forget to try the famous Mint Julep cocktail!
Perennial


 
Mustard
(Brassica juncea)
A strong flavor used to preserve and season
. Great on salmon, use in salad dressings.
Annual
Oregano
(Origanum vulgare)
Minty, great as an assist to basil. Used in Greek and Italian cooking.

.Perennial
Nasturtium
(Tropaeolum majus)
Trumpet-shaped blooms on vines or short stems have sweet, mildly spicy flavor. Peppery-tasting foliage is also edible. seed pods can be pickled.
Annual


Rosemary
(Rosmarinus officinalis)
Is great as a marinate for steak or as a star in Summertime lemonade.
Perennial
Sage
(Salvia officinalis)
Powerful herb, woodsy. Sage lends itself to poultry and soups.
Perennial
Sassafras
(Sassafras albidum)

Sassafras is very common in Adams County. The roots were once used in root beer and the leaves are used in making filè.
Foraged
Staghorn Sumac
{Rhus typhina)
The country lemon. Ground or whole berry can be used as a substitute for lemon.
Foraged
Stevia
(Stevia Rebaudiana Bertoni)
Steviasweetens with almost zero calories, does not encourage cavities and is non-glycemic.
Annual

 

Tarragon
(Artemisia dracunculus)
One of the most versatile and flavorful in my opinion. Add it to salmon fillets or to asparagus soup, it won't ever disappoint!

Perennial
Thyme
(Thymus vulgaris)
Thyme is a good partner to roasted chicken, oil and vinegar dressings and any soup you care to make.

Perennial
Wild Ginger
(Asarum species)
Wild ginger is not the same as culinary ginger (Zingiber officinale) that is used in stir-fry and ginger ale. However, its fleshy root does have a similar spicy aroma and can be substituted for culinary ginger in many of the same places.
. Foraged
Winter Savory
(Satureja montana)
Fresh or dried leaves are used to flavor vinegars, herb butters, bean dishes, creamy soups, and tea.
Perennial
 

Homesteading: A Backyard Guide to Growing Your Own Food, Canning, Keeping Chickens, Generating Your Own Energy, Crafting, Herbal Medicine, and More (Back to Basics Guides)


Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less) (Living Free Guides) by England, Angela (12/4/2012)

The Encyclopedia of Country Living, 40th Anniversary Edition: The Original Manual of Living Off the Land & Doing It Yourself

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