5 Little-Known Spring Herbs That Belong in Your Kitchen

Kristin

Editor

Spring is the perfect time for herb lovers because our little, green friends start to come back after a long winter nap. When you think of your daily cooking, what herbs come to mind? Parsley, basil, cilantro, and mint? Maybe oregano, thyme, and rosemary?

While almost everybody is familiar these common kitchen herbs, there is a long list of underrated herbs that are worth having on your radar.

Today, we’ll pluck the best of the best and share some of our favorite lesser-known spring herbs.

Wild garlic (Allium ursinum)

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Wild garlic is also known as bear's garlic, devil's garlic, gypsy's onions, and stinking Jenny (sorry, Jenny!). Both its leaves and flowers are edible. Young leaves can be eaten raw or cooked, and are delicious added to sauces, salads, soups, sandwiches, and creamy things like cottage cheese. They’re also great used in a pesto instead of basil and taste fantastic when roasted with lamb or beef.

For those looking to forage their own wild garlic, a word of caution: There are several other plants that look similar and are poisonous. So, if you want to harvest wild garlic yourself, always make sure to rub the leaves between your fingers—if they smell like garlic, you’re good to go!

Garlic chives (Allium tuberosum)

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Garlic chives are also known as Chinese chives, Oriental garlic, and Chinese leek. They’re different from ordinary chives as they have flat, broad leaves, and fragrant white flowers.

Garlic chives taste slightly stronger than regular chives and, as you may have suspected, are armed with a delicate garlic flavor. You can use the chopped stalks in salad dressings, omelets, and salsa, or as a garnish on soups or purées. They are also delicious incorporated into herb butters, pestos, and dips.

Sorrel (Rumex acetosa)

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Sorrel is a beloved herb in European countries and a popular ingredient in French cuisine. Keep your eyes peeled for sorrel with immaculate, bright green leaves and look for those that are similar in appearance to elongated spinach. This also applies if you want to forage for wild sorrel–avoid those with rusty brown holes in the leaves, an indication of high levels of oxalic acid.

Particularly aromatic and delicate from April to May, sorrel is great for spicing up soups, sauces for pasta and salmon, sandwiches, salads, dips, and herb butters or as an accompaniment to fish or egg dishes. Its taste is pleasantly sour yet refreshing. Plus, young, freshly picked sorrel offers high amounts of vitamin C.

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

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As its name implies, this spring herb tastes lightly of lemon, even though its leaves look a lot like mint. Like many delicate herbs, lemon balm loses flavor during the cooking process, so you better make sure to add it raw to salads or only when finishing your cooked dish.

Lemon balm make a nice complement to fish and chicken dishes and matches great with any kind of fruits, berries, and desserts such as lemon curd. For a fresh brewed lemon balm tea, simply grab a handful of its leaves, crumple them slightly with your fingers, and steep in hot water for about 10 minutes.

Apple mint (Mentha suaveolens)

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Did you know that there are about 30 varieties of mint? You might have already seen tea blends with Moroccan mint in the supermarket before, but have you ever heard of apple mint?

Apple mint is a popular mint variety for tea, but also goes well with apples (hence the fitting name), fruit salads, smoothies, and desserts, as it contains less menthol than other others and has a mellower minty aroma. Want to make yourself a refreshing drink on a warm day? Mix cold apple mint tea in equal parts with apple juice and pour over ice!

What’s your favorite spring herb and how do you use it? Tell us in the comments below!