They should not be confused with spices. Herbs correspond to the leaves of plants and can be eaten fresh or dried. Spices come from other parts of plants (flowers, bark, fruits, bulbs, seeds, etc.) and are eaten dried most of the time. Herbs are nonetheless very varied. There are hundreds, if not thousands. They include all the aromatic plants of temperate climates, annuals, biennials or perennials, climbers or in the form of shrubs or trees (such as laurel). There are two large families. On the one hand, the lamiaceae, which originate in the Mediterranean Basin. They are rich in essential oils and other odoriferous molecules, which explains their aromatic intensity. This is the case with mint, thyme, marjoram, oregano, basil and rosemary; on the other hand, the apiaceae, with the characteristic "umbel" shape, which includes parsley, coriander, chervil, fennel, dill and cumin, but also carrot, parsnip and celery. Most of them originate from the temperate regions of Europe.
Fresh Herbs and Cheeses from Switzerland
Herbs are essential allies for a healthy, tasty and fresh cuisine. They enhance the taste of dishes in a variety of ways, without adding salt or fat. With their fine spicy, bitter or tangy touches, they act on both taste and smell and wet the appetite!
Early Medicinal Use
Herbs have long been used as medicinal plants. Indeed, their consumption is not natural: animals do not eat them and babies do not like the smell. Until the Middle Ages, thyme, parsley and garlic were used for healing ... But, little by little, they began to be incorporated into food preparations and to preserve food. Most of the herbs we consume today are from the "old world," we have adopted only those from the Americas.
How to buy and keep them fresh
It is better to buy them fresh than dried and ground, then they offer the maximum flavor and fragrance. Choose them without mold, with non-dried stems and well-colored leaves. They can be stored for 4 to 5 days in the refrigerator, as long as they are left in their tightly closed packaging. If you buy unpackaged herbs, store them in an airtight container, in a plastic bag, or wrapped in plastic wrap. You can also insert a slightly damp absorbent paper in it to increase the shelf life.
If you have too many fresh herbs and are worried they might spoil, know that they freeze easily. Just wash them, then wipe them dry between two sheets of paper towels and freeze them in airtight containers or bags. You can keep them dry. Tie the herbs in bundles and hang them upside down in a cool, dry place out of light. Let dry until the leaves crumble. Detach and store them in an airtight container. The herbs will keep for 6 to 9 months. You can also keep them whole or chopped in an airtight jar filled with your favorite oil. You will thus obtain a scented oil.
Pairing Fresh Herbs with Swiss Cheeses
- Tomme Vaudoise and lemon thyme. Marinate the Tomme Vaudoise for 3 days in a mixture of olive oil, lemon thyme and lemongrass, to taste with an arugula.
- Salad with aromatic herbs and Swiss Alpage Gruyère AOP. Chop a large bunch of flat-leaf parsley, tarragon, basil, chervil and chives. Season with olive oil and sherry vinegar. Place on the plates, add a few cherry tomatoes and very thin strips of Swiss Alpage Gruyère AOP.
- Strawberry compote, rhubarb, tarragon and Rosettes of Tête de Moine PDO. Cook the rhubarb cut into sections, with honey and sugar for 10 minutes, add strawberries, (for 2 cups of rhubarb, add 1 cup of strawberry, 1/4 cup of sugar). Cook together for 15 minutes. Cool. Serve in a cup, garnishing with tarragon leaves and a Rosette of Tête de Moine PDO.
- Zucchini salad, Appenzeller® and fresh mint. Cut small zucchini into very thin slices (or strips). Chop a bunch of peppermint, add to the zucchini, season with lemon vinegar and hazelnut oil, add a few cherry tomatoes and pistachios. Finish with Appenzeller® dice
- Carrot tart, Vacherin Fribourgeois AOP and coriander. Steam the carrots. Mix them. Mix with crème fraîche, an egg, grated Vacherin Fribourgeois AOP and a bunch of chopped coriander, salt and pepper generously, spread this puree on a shortcrust pastry, bake for 20 minutes. Add a few sprigs of fresh cilantro before serving.
- Tomatoes, Sbrinz AOP and basil. Cut the tomatoes into carpaccio. Generously add slices of Sbrinz AOP, finish with basil leaves (you can replace the basil with arugula). Season with olive oil only, salt and pepper.
- Sbrinz PDO and chives. Serve Rebibbes de Sbrinz AOP sprinkled with chopped chives and chervil for an aperitif.