Sage advice: don’t smoke the parsley

Herbs have been enjoying a bit of renaissance of late, with the ‘grow your own edibles’ trend in full swing.

Sage advice: don’t smoke the parsley

I first began to notice herbs back in 1976. I was in Grade 9 and had some seriously long hair and a friend called JT, who decided to try smoking the entire contents of his mom’s spice cupboard.

Every day he came to school with a little baggy of dried oregano, basil or parsley that he rolled and smoked at lunch.

He finally settled on the dried parsley flakes as they were the most economical to buy and provided what he called an instant high, although most of us had our doubts.

It was a short-lived fad, as JT reeked so badly after smoking his parsley that no girl would get within 10 feet of him, and the fairer sex turned out to be more important than his imagined herbal high.

This brings us to 2012, which is hopefully a more enlightened time, when most of us prefer to eat, rather than smoke our parsley.

Herbs have been enjoying a bit of renaissance of late, with the ‘grow your own edibles’ trend in full swing. Most of the time when I get people asking for advice in regards to them, they simply want to know which ones taste best. While personal preferences come into play here, there are certain herbs which have remained popular over the years.

• For rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), the intense essential oils and larger leaves of both ‘Rex’ and ‘Gorizia’ make these exceptional choices, although both are somewhat tender. ‘Arp’ (a terribly unappetising cultivar name) is the most cold-hardy rosemary, while ‘Tuscan Blue’ has a nice balance of flavour and reliability – which is why I have a small containerized topiary of the latter on my back deck. It is one of the three secret ingredients for my homemade meatballs, which also includes freshly ground pork (instead of beef) and grated Romano cheese.

• Thyme lovers tend to gravitate towards the traditional English thyme (Thymus vulgaris), although ‘Tabor,’ or Oregano thyme, is quickly gaining popularity. For seafood lovers, nothing beats a little fresh Lemon thyme (Thymus x citriodorus) and ‘Silver Queen’ is a nice variegated form that doubles as an evergreen ornamental.

• With mint, it gets a little more complicated, as there are so many possible uses, but here is a quick rundown of the flavour favourites: for general cooking (eg. leg of lamb) use ‘English’ (Mentha spicata ‘English’); for mint tea use ‘Moroccan’ (Mentha spicata ‘Moroccan’); for Mohitos use ‘Mohito’ (Mentha x villosa); for fruit salads, use ‘Orange’ (Mentha aquatica ‘Citrata’); and for dessert garnishes, use ‘Chocolate’ mint (Mentha x piperita ‘Chocolate’).

• The sages (Salvia officinalis) also double as ornamentals with ‘Icterina’ (gold-edged) and ‘Tricolor’ (purple, white and green) being the nicest of these. ‘Growers Friend’ is by far the best culinary form, while the purple-tinted ‘Purpurascens’ provides a nice balance of colour and flavour.

Pineapple sage (Salvia elegans) is a tender plant with edible leaves and red flowers that can be added to fruit salads or iced teas. Most people seem to prefer Greek (Origanum vulgare hirtum) or ‘Hot & Spicy’ oregano, but there are also some nice variegated or gold-leaved forms (Origanum vulgare ‘Aureum’) that double as herbs. The best culinary parsley is the Italian, while Curled makes a better looking garnish.

• For something a little different, try parcel, which tastes like a combination of parsley and celery.

And for smoking, drive to Chilliwack and see if you can’t find a guy named JT for a little advice.

 

Gardening blogs

I’ve uploaded a new story – Where have the ’70s Gone – to my blog at www.soulofagardener.wordpress.com and you can find more herbs at www.mikesgardentop5plants.wordpress.com.

 

Mike Lascelle is a local nursery manager and gardening author (hebe_acer@hotmail.com).

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Maple Ridge City Hall. (The News files)
Maple Ridge takes development services virtual

Building, planning and engineering services will be offered online only until end of the month

Thousands have converged in Whonnock Lake Park to enjoy the nice weather. (Roxanne Hooper/The News)
Thousands enjoy Maple Ridge park as city warns about social distancing

Portable toilets installed in anticipation of nice weather

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Two new Maple Ridge schools have COVID-19 exposures

Alouette elementary and Maple Ridge secondary visited by virus

Ridge Meadows RCMP Const. Britteny George and Westview students turned old tires into pet beds. (Special to The News)
Maple Ridge students help turn old tires into pet beds

Westview art classes and RCMP constable take on project

Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Conservative MP Marc Dalton and former MP and Liberal candidate Dan Ruimy.
Dalton slams budget, Ruimy defends Liberal spending

Neither politician sees federal budget triggering an election

A lone traveler enters the Calgary Airport in Calgary, Alta., Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
VIDEO: Trudeau defends Canada’s travel restrictions as effective but open to doing more

Trudeau said quarantine hotels for international air travellers will continue until at least May 21

(Aldergrove Star files)
BREAKING: IHIT investigating fatal shooting near Langley Sportsplex

91a Avenue at 200th Street is closed to the public as RCMP investigate

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson leaves the assembly with Premier John Horgan after the budget speech Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Paid sick leave for ‘hard-hit’ workers left out of provincial budget: BCGEU

‘For recovery to be equitable it requires supports for workers, not just business,’ says union president Laird Cronk

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

In this image from video, former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, center, is taken into custody as his attorney, Eric Nelson, left, looks on, after the verdicts were read at Chauvin’s trial for the 2020 death of George Floyd, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Court TV via AP, Pool
George Floyd’s death was ‘wake-up call’ about systemic racism: Trudeau

Derek Chauvin was found guilty Tuesday on all three charges against him

Former University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Rowing Canada sanctions former head coach of B.C. varsity women’s team

Suspension of Barney Williams would be reversed if he complies with certain terms

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Most Read