20 Mediterranean herbs in your backyard

No matter who you are, Mediterranean herbs are a must for your herb garden. These herbs come from the countries around the Mediterranean and prefer warm climates and well-drained soils.

Each of these spices or herbs gives a regional expression to the dishes in which it is used. Depending on the Mediterranean spices and herbs you use in cooking, your dish can be Greek, Turkish, Italian, etc.!

Today these herbs are popular all over the world. Everyone has at least a few of these classic culinary herbs in their pantry. They are considered a staple food in most dishes. From cumin and oregano to mint to coriander you will find an abundance of delicious flavors.

Best of all, most of these herbs are surprisingly easy to grow. Building a herb garden around these culinary staples is easy and rewarding, and you'll never be short of your favorite flavors!

Mediterranean herbsMediterranean herbs are easy to grow and offer an abundance of flavors. Source: amandabhslater

Drought tolerant Mediterranean herbs

Some herbs have extremely low water requirements and are considered drought tolerant. These plants often grow in poor soil conditions or arid and dry conditions.


Cumin plantCumin is a popular savory flavor used in meat dishes. Source: elstro_88

The cumin powder we use is usually the dried seeds of Cuminum cyminum that are ground to dust. This member of the parsley family is a flowering plant that can grow up to 1 to 2 feet tall. The flowers are small, typically white or pink, and appear in fragrant umbels in mid-summer.

Cumin plants ripen about 120 days after planting. The seeds are brownish-yellow and elongated. Cumin requires at least four months of hot and sunny conditions to set seeds. Ground cumin, which is most commonly used, is made by grinding dry and roasted cumin.


Lavender plantThe lavender plant is as fragrant as it is beautiful. Source: Quinet

The genus Lavandula or Lavender has 47 known species. All types of lavender are flowering types with an appealing scent. The upright flower tips and foliage are beautiful too, and many people grow lavender as an ornamental plant. Depending on the type of lavender, the flowers can be blue, lavender, violet or blackish-purple.

Lavender is usually harvested in May, June, and July. During harvest time, cut bundles of lavender, leaving at least a few inches of green growth. Wrap an elastic band around the bundle below. Hang these bundles in a dark, well-ventilated place to dry. Once the lavender is completely dry, you can easily break the dried flowers off for use in the pantry.


Marjoram plantMarjoram is a staple in French cuisine. Source: thegardenbuzz

Marjoram is a perennial Mediterranean herb. In ancient Greek and Roman times, it was considered a symbol of good luck. Today it is typically cultivated for its aromatic leaves. It looks a lot like oregano but has a sweet taste, with oregano's taste being spicy. Even so, it is closely related to oregano and is botanically referred to as Origanum majorana.

In Mexico, these sweet leaves are combined with oregano and thyme to create hierbas de olor, which is the equivalent of a Mexican bouquet garni. It is also often used as part of Herbes de Provence or Za & # 39; atar. Marjoram can be used fresh, finely chopped, and frozen in small ice cube trays for storage, or dried for later use.


Oregano plantYou need to dry tons of oregano for your pantry. Source: Ilona_68

Oregano belongs to the mint family and has white, pink, or purple, spade-shaped flowers. Oregano is closely related to marjoram and is even called wild marjoram. It is considered a staple of Greek or Italian cuisine.

Greek oregano, also called Origanum vulgare, can actually be tastier when dried than fresh. While the fresh oregano leaves also have great culinary uses, most of the time the leaves of this precious herb are harvested and dehydrated or dried. It can be crumbled or powdered for storage. I use oregano to enhance the taste of most of my favorite dishes, and it's one of the most widely used herbs in the U.S. today.


Rosemary plantThe strong taste of rosemary makes it a perfect combination for meat. Source: VirtKitty

With tiny blues and a distinctive scent, rosemary is, by and large, one of the most popular herbs grown at home. Using rosemary fresh will add the sharpest flavor to your kitchen. Both the slender, pointed leaves and the stems are used. The leaves are the most common, but thick rosemary stalks can be used as a flavorful skewer for meat or vegetables.

There are two forms of rosemary; a prostrate, low-growing or creeping form and a shrubby bushy form. Both have the same botanical name, Salvia rosmarinus.


Saffron plantEach saffron crocus produces only three stigmatizations, the part we consume. Source: UnconventionalEmma

Saffron is exotic and incredibly expensive, and the harvested stigmas of the Crocus sativus flower. Each flower has only three slender orange or red stigmas, and it may take 50-60 flowers to make a single tablespoon. This rare spice colors everything it uses a golden yellow hue and its earthy but floral scent is out of this world.

Most don't think about growing, harvesting, and drying their own saffron, but that is perfectly feasible. The bulbs bloom year after year, but each bulb produces only one flower. So you need a pretty large garden to get a decent harvest!


Sage plantCulinary sage is delicious both freshly picked and dried. Source: .michael.newman.

There are hundreds of species of sage, but here we are referring to the culinary sage, Salvia officianalis. Its gray-green leaves are often used in poultry dishes. It has a sweet but pine-like aroma and aroma that adds some spice to anything it is used in.

Sage is most commonly stored dry, but the fresh leaves are great for cooking. A new trend in good restaurants is frying whole leaves of sage to use as a sprinkle over steaks or poultry dishes. Whether you dry it and powder it for storage or use it fresh, you'll love having access to this spice year round.


Hearty plantSavory foods are most commonly used in French cuisine, but are gaining popularity elsewhere. Source: Tiny Banquet Committee

The peppery, robust taste of savory spawned the use of the term "savory" to describe foods that were spicy or salty instead of sweet … and for good reason. There are two main varieties, winter savory (Satureja montana) and summer savory (Satureja hortensis), each of which has its own uses.

Summer Savory is a delicate plant with light green foliage and a sweet but spicy scent. Winter savory is a semi-woody herb with dense, glossy, and leathery leaves. In both cases, the leaves are used as a culinary spice, but the summer savory leaves are often harvested while the stems are still green. Winter savory is more flavorful in summer, and that's when leaves of this variety are harvested. It can be used fresh or dried.


Tarragon plantTarragon is a popular herb that is used to make vinegar. Source: John and Anni

Tarragon (Artemesia dracunculus var. Sativa) is sometimes called tarragon and is a perennial herb with long, light green leaves and small yellow florets. The most popular culinary variety is French tarragon, which has by far the most distinctive flavor but produces sterile seeds. Russian tarragon is a fertile variety with a much milder taste.

Tarragon is one of the four fine herbs in French cuisine and is used to give an aniseed tone to a number of dishes. It's also used as a fresh leaf to infuse vinegar with its aromatic properties and can be dried or frozen to keep for later.

Learn more: Growing tarragon


Thyme plantThyme is lovely no matter which variety you use. Source: psd

Adding a sprig of thyme to your dish can enhance the flavor while adding a nice herbal note. Thyme is a common combination with lemon for poultry and has tiny oval leaves on slender stems. Thymus vulgaris, the most popular culinary form, rarely reaches a height of more than 6 inches.

Harvest by cutting off stems filled with lots of the tiny leaves and then peeling off the leaves or tying the stem with its leaves in a bouquet to use in cooking. Thyme leaves can be dried for later use.

Moisture-loving Mediterranean herbs

When cultivating Mediterranean herbs, not all species are drought tolerant. Let's go over a few herbs you need in a moisture-loving part of your Mediterranean herb garden!


Basil plantThe large basil leaves make them easy to use in a number of ways. Source: amandabhslater

Ocimum basilicum has a large number of varieties, but those that we most often consider Mediterranean are lettuce leaf, purple, or globe varieties. Its name basil is believed to derive from the Latin or Greek "royal plant", probably because it was used to make royal perfumes.

In the Mediterranean herb garden, basil is a must for Mediterranean spices. It is one of the most common Greek herbs and is also widely used in Italian cuisine. However, it's not limited to Mediterranean cuisine. Thai, Chinese, Korean, and many other Asian cuisines also use it. It dries well but is absolutely shiny when freshly picked.

Learn more: Growing basil


Chervil plantChervil is a relative of parsley and they are often confused. Source: The Croft

This delicate little leaf herb is related to parsley and is also one of the finest herbs in French cuisine. Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium) creates a light, anise-like taste that is used to flavor mild dishes. Chervil is a cool-loving plant that grows best in partial shade in warmer climates, but otherwise should be grown in spring or autumn.

While it can be dried for later storage, this way the chervil loses some of its flavor. It is best used when re-plucked but should be harvested when the leaves are small. Larger leaves can develop a bitter note.


Chive plantThe mild taste of chives makes them the perfect topping. Source: katerha

Allias are always popular, and chives (Allium schoenoprasum) are among the most popular. These tiny tubular leaves create a delicious onion-like flavor and are often used as toppings for an extra spark of life. They are also incredible bait for pollinating insects, so make a great garden companion.

Use scissors to cut off the greens and use them while they're still crispy and flavorful. Dried chives also lose much of their unique and delightful flavor, although freeze-drying retains at least some of it.

Learn more: Grow chives

Coriander (also known as coriander)

Coriander plantCoriander and coriander come from the same plant. Source: Farmer_Jay

Did you know that these two spices are different parts of the same annual herb, Coriandrum sativum? Coriander are the leaves of the plant while cilantro are the seeds. Coriander is often considered an essential Mexican or Thai spice, but coriander was also a stall in the Mediterranean herb garden.

The leaves can be dried, but they lose most of their flavor. It's best to make a paste out of the coriander and instead freeze it for long-term storage. Fresh use is recommended. Once the seeds are formed, you can use them when they are green or when they have dried and turned brown. However, green will produce the better taste if you use them right away.


Fennel plantBoth vegetables and herbs, fennel is growing in popularity in the US. Source: Cyclingshepherd

In Greek, fennel is called "marathon" and in fact the city marathon after which the famous breed is named was named after the fennel that grew naturally in the area. All parts of the fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) are edible. The leaves and flowers are a culinary herb, the onion a vegetable and the dried fruit a spice.

Use the leaves fresh or dry them for storage. The fruits themselves are often dried and then pulverized to mix into spice blends. Unfortunately, the bulb is not as easy to store as the rest of the plant.


Garlic bulbAll parts of the garlic plant are edible, but we especially love the onions. Source: quinn.anya

We all love garlic, even if it stinks our breath. All parts of this plant are edible too, but the most popular part is the signature onion. Garlic (Allium sativum) also produces delicious greens and edible landscapes that make for a delicious delicacy.

What is stored by this plant is its bulb. Once dry, the lightbulb can be stored whole or chopped, chopped or powdered. You will know it is time to harvest when the green parts of the plant turn yellow and die off.

Learn more: Growing hardneck garlic


Mint plantMint grows like weeds, but you'll be using plenty of it. Source: jbhangoo

Mentha, the mint family, encompasses a wide variety of flavor profiles. Most grow best in moist soil, but it can hold up even in drier conditions. This plant now grows wild in much of the world and is known to be invasive. But invasive or not, it's definitely delicious!

Dried mint leaves store very well and are used as teas or culinary herbs. Young fresh tufts of mint leaves can be used to garnish drinks or dishes, and the leaves themselves add a touch of flavor to salads and other dishes.


Paprika plantPaprika is a powdered and dried paprika. Source: cesargp

Paprika (Capsicum annuum) is harvested and dried and then ground into the powder we know today as paprika. This paprika powder is sometimes smoked to improve the taste. It is often used as a mild spice.

The peppers should only be harvested from the plant when they have reached a bright red color. This gives the possible spice its unmistakable color. Ground peppers can be stored for up to a year before they lose some of their flavor.


Parsley plantParsley is an incredibly popular, slightly bitter herb. Source: jamoca1

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) is native to the central and eastern Mediterranean and is a staple in most cuisines. Italian parsley has flat, light green leaves, while the parsley is used as a side dish. The fresh parsley leaves have a mild, bitter taste that is considered an excellent breath freshener.

Dry the leaves for long-term storage or turn the fresh ones into a paste and freeze them. Use in salads or dishes as a freshly picked herb is also an excellent choice.


Turmeric plant rootTurmeric rhizomes, once cooked and dried and powdered, are delicious as a spice. Source: h-bomb

The last herb on our list isn't technically used as an herb at all. However, if you are growing herbs, you will likely want to include this spice. Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is obtained from the rhizomes of a perennial. The characteristic rhizomatic roots are harvested, boiled, then dried and ground into an orange-yellow powder that is used to flavor and color foods.

If the plant dies in the fall, carefully dig up the root system. Pick the largest one and leave a few behind so the perennial can reappear next year.

The green fingers behind this article:
Lorin Nielsen
Lifelong gardener

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