Herbs de Provence

Herbs de Provence, or Herbes de Provence, to use the correct French spelling, denotes a mixture of different cooking herbs native to Provence, in the south of France. Which particular herbs you find in a herbs de Provence mix can vary, but in theory they are all herbs you would find growing in the Mediterranean region of France.

Amazing Herbs

When we lived in Corsica we always had a garden, and I quickly learned how tough cultivating the Mediterranean soil could be. There is a little bit of dirt on the island, but it is for the most part one big rock. Despite these poor conditions, you can always count on certain things growing in the soil - they are well adapted to these conditions. Among these plants are: rosemary, thyme, sage, and lavender.

rosemary
Rosemary
I think my favorite plant was rosemary . You would be amazed to see what a tough plant this is. It can be covered in snow in the winter, without water for weeks in the hot summer, trod upon by cows, and generally ignored for months at end. Nothing seems to disturb its fragrant presence.

lavender
Lavender
Lavender is so well adapted that it grows in wild abundance all over Corsica. Indeed the fragrant maquis is home to many wild herbs and I often wished I knew which to pick and use at home. However, I cautiously stuck with what I could grow myself. It is a real pleasure to walk out in your garden and clip off a few stalks of some herb to flavor the evening meal.

When you use some of these herbs, you might like to recall how rugged and strong some of the plants are that they come from.

List of Herbs de Provence

Here's a list of what you might find in a mixture of herbs de Provence along with their French name.

  • Thyme (Thym)
  • Wild Thyme (Serpolet)
  • Marjoram (Marjolaine)
  • Oregano (Origan)
  • Rosemary (Romarin)
  • Basil (Basilic)
  • Chervil (Cerfeuil)
  • Savory (Sarriette)
  • Lavender (Lavande)
  • Fennel (Fenouil)
  • Bay Leaf (Laurier)

Make Your Own Mix

Many herbs these days sold as Herbes de Provence aren't actually grown in Provence, and some people gripe that packaged herb mixes lack in flavor. If you are able to grow some of these herbs yourself, you could mix them together however you wished and call them Herbes de Provence. Package them yourself in a pretty jar and you have a very nice gift to offer a friend.

Cookng With Herbs

You can use these herbs to flavor just about any savory dish. I always have a large jar on hand and when in doubt, I add a teaspoon or two (or more) to whatever I'm cooking. It is perfect to sprinkle on grilled foods and you don't need to limit its use to just French recipes either.

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