29 April 2012

Fines Herbes

Fresh herbs are always appreciated at my house.

They fill up the kitchen windowsills and are often tucked into any crevice available in the fridge, tucked into tiny sleeping bags of damp paper towel and plastic baggies.  I have many of them planted amongst my perennials and shrubs as they lend a bit of delicacy to the plantings and I don't need to go far to harvest!

I always thought I'd have a kitchen garden someday....there is still plenty of time.

One of my favorite combinations of fresh herbs for cooking is called "Fines Herbes" in French and embodies the subtleties of  French cuisine.  A combination of Chervil, Chives, Tarragon, Parsley.  Equal parts or heavy on the flavors you enjoy most, Fines Herbes, makes many dishes sing with it's bright flavor.

If you choose the chervil and tarragon to be your main focus, you get an emphasis on anise notes, parsley is more fresh green and lemon flavors and chives give that grassy, onion, garlic punch.

I use Fines Herbes most on fish, chicken, potatoes and salads, usually in a light vinaigrette, homemade mayonnaise or simply sprinkled on top before serving.


Grows well in a shady location, with well drained soil.  Keep well clipped and avoid allowing to go to seed for all season enjoyment, or re-seed every 2 weeks or so.  Re-seeds itself well for years of enjoyment.  Ferny, delicate foliage about 10 inches maximum height, looks great in pots or amongst other flowers.  Can withstand a bit of frost, and grows best in cool weather.  Chervil does not like to be disturbed once growing, so it's best to sow seeds and not disturb it once started.

Tarragon is best purchased as a plant, as the seeds are difficult to germinate.  It likes morning sun and a bit of shade during the hottest parts of the day.  Tarragon grows on a shallow root system and reaches about 4 feet tall.  The French tarragon is a bit more flavorful and less invasive than the Russian Tarragon.

Parsley is an easy to grow herb that enjoys partial sun and moist well drained soil.  You can choose the flat leaf variety or curly leaf, the tastes are very similar.  Easy to start from seed or purchase plants.  I usually plant a few plants, as I use an abundance throughout the season.

Chives are a perennial and grow in a grass like clump about 18 inches tall.  Once established in a sunny, well drained soil, the plants thrive for years.  The purple blooms in late spring are also edible and lovely tossed into a salad. 


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