Some FAQs About Herbs
Q : Herb – how do you pronounce it?
A: That’s easily the most asked question about herbs. It depends on where you live. If you’re in the UK, the “h” is pronounced, as in “herb”. In the US, it’s usually pronounced “erb” (no “h” sound).
Q: What exactly are herbs and spices?
A: Tricky question. Leaves of such plants as lemon balm, sage and thyme, both fresh and dried, and the plants themselves are generally called “herbs”. The seeds, roots, fruits, flowers or bark of certain plants and trees may be “spices”. Herbs tend to grow in more temperate climates, while spices are grown in the tropics. Herbs, being leafy, are green in color and the flavor is more subtle. Spices tend to be shades of dark brown, black, or red, with a pungent flavor and smell. But according to the American Spice Trade Association, spices are defined as “any dried plant product used primarily for seasoning purposes”. This really broadens the definition of spices, allowing it to include herbs, dehydrated vegetables, spice blends and spice seeds.
Q: Can rosemary be grown from seed?
A: Yes, it can, but the germination rate is low. Maybe 1 seed in 30 will sprout. Often the rosemarys that do sprout are nothing like the parent plants. The seedlings often lack color and flavor, and it takes years for a seedling to reach maturity.
Q: What is the most expensive herb in the world?
A: Saffron. High quality saffron will fetch upwards of $1,500 per pound. It takes some 68,000 flowers to produce one pound of the spice. True. Making it the most expensive herb in the world.
Q: What herbs grew during biblical days?
A: The Bible and other ancient texts are full of references to herbs and spices. Myrrh and frankincense were among the gifts brought by the Magi. Also mentioned in the old testament were garlic, mandrake, dandelions, endive, chicory, and sorrel. Endive and sorrel are among the bitter herbs eaten during Passover. The people of this period in history also enjoyed quince, pomegranates and cucumbers.
Q: Is garlic a culinary herb, medicinal herb, or spice?
A: All of the above, I would say. Medicinally, garlic has been around since pre-biblical times. In the Far east, ancients herbalists used it to treat high blood pressure and respiratory problems. Garlic is mentioned in the medicinal calendar of the Hsai, which dates back to 2,000 BC. Garlic is a key ingredient of the Four Thieves Vinegar, a potent formula used to banish fleas and pestilence. Garlic is also an important ingredient in Italian cooking. The bulb is used, and the leaves as well.
Azul, Your explanations are so enlightening!