Hints & TIps

A Thai curry dish

Top Thai Dishes Filled with Fresh Herbs and Spices!

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With Thai New Year fast approaching, we thought we’d look at some of the most popular Thai dishes and the herbs and spices used in them.

We’ll start with some of the most common questions people have about Thai cooking ingredients, then offer some tips on where you can find the best Thai recipes so you can celebrate Songkran in style!

What are the leaves used in Thai cooking?

Some of the herbs you’d expect to see in the best Thai foods include:

  1. Bay leaves
  2. Coriander (and coriander root)
  3. Culantro (not to be confused with cilantro, which is another name for coriander!)
  4. Curry leaves
  5. Dill
  6. Holy basil
  7. Lemon basil
  8. Lemongrass
  9. Lime leaves
  10. Mint
  11. Pandan
  12. Parsley
  13. Rosemary
  14. Sweet basil
  15. Thai parsley
  16. Thai basil
  17. Vietnamese Coriander

Below, we’ve picked out some tasty ideas that include everything you’d expect from a typical English breakfast, along with one or two more left-field ideas to spice up your breakfast plate.

What are the seven Thai spices?

When people in the West think of ingredients used in Asian cooking, they inevitably think of Chinese five spice and Thai seven spice. You can make your own Thai seven spice blend by using the following ground up herbs and spices. Then you’ll be prepared to make some of the best Thai dishes around.

  1. Black pepper
  2. Chilli powder (we recommend making it from fresh chillies)
  3. Cumin
  4. Garlic powder
  5. Ginger (for a fuller flavour, we suggest grinding it down from fresh root ginger)
  6. Ground cloves
  7. Star of anise

What are the most popular Thai dishes to make at home?

The following suggestions would make it onto any respectable list of the top 10 foods to try in Thailand. Yet with the right recipes and ingredients, you can enjoy them without even leaving your house!

1.     Thai red or green curry

When it comes to a list of ‘Thai best dishes,’ you can’t fail to include the country’s signature curries. The red variety is typically a little hotter, while the green curry is a little creamier and easier on the tongue. Both share many common ingredients however, including coconut milk, lime leaves, Thai basil (just good old fashioned standard basil leaves will do in many cases), garlic and fish sauce. The red variant also includes ginger, which gives it much of that extra kick! Plus of course you’ll need a curry paste of your choosing, which you can find these days in most major supermarkets.

Recipes: Thai red curry and Thai green curry, both at BBC Good Food.

2.     Tom yum and tom kha soups

Image credit: Recipe Tin Eats

Tom yum soup is a super tasty clear, broth-based meal made with fresh ingredients, including hard herbs lime leaves and lemongrass, chillies, coriander, garlic and galangal, along with king prawns, mushrooms, chicken stock, tomatoes and more. It can be prepared clear, or turned into tom kha soup by simply adding some chilli paste and coconut milk to the broth – giving you two of the best Thai recipes here in one!

Recipe: Recipe Tin Eats

3.     Kao phat with prik nam pla

Kao phat is a Thai fried rice dish that’s simple to make but goes down incredibly well thanks to its flavour-filled combination of fresh ingredients, and is best served with a spicy prik nam pla sauce that gives it a real kick!

The recipe we like best comes from Thai Caliente, and includes the use of Thai bird’s eye chillies or jalapeno chillies to give the sauce its intensity. We also like to add a little coriander on top for garnish, just to give it a little extra colour.

Recipe: Thai Caliente

4.     Pad Thai

Easily one of the most popular Thai dishes in the UK, pad Thai is an ever-so-tasty noodle dish that’s easy to make and even easier to eat! It’s also incredibly versatile, lending itself well to poultry, seafood or vegan-friendly tofu options – making it one of the best Thai foods if your household has varied culinary preferences.

Our favourite fresh ingredients in a pad Thai include chopped fresh ginger, chilli flakes and chopped spring onions – although we like to use chives instead. You’ll also need a slightly unusual rice vinegar (not to be confused with standard malt vinegar!) – and of course, oodles of Thai noodles!

Recipe: Feasting at Home

5.     Larb

Thai dish larb

Image credit: Taste Australia

A minced meat and herb salad dish, larb can be prepared with beef, chicken, tofu or even with just vegetables. It’s incredibly impressive placed in the middle of a dining table to eat family style, and can work as lunch, a starter at dinner time, or as an accompaniment to a main course.

Packing in green chillies, coriander leaves and fresh mint, it’s got bags of fresh flavour, and as a bonus it even gives off a lovely aroma that’s sure to draw people to the dining table. Definitely some of the best Thai food for almost any time of the day.

Recipe: Taste Australia

6.     Phat kapharo

Phat kapharo is a classic rice-based street food that essentially translates to ‘fried holy basil leaves.’ So as you can imagine, it definitely includes the holy basil we mentioned in our list of Thai leaves above! It also packs in chillies, shallots, minced beef and garlic, alongside both fresh lime juice and lime leaves that give the dish a nice and distinctive zing. Oh, and did we mention the fried egg that’s served on top?! That makes this one of the best Thai dishes if you’re looking to make eyes go wide at your Thai New Year dinner.

Recipe: The Nosey Chef

7.     Kuay tiew rua

Translated as ‘Thai boat noodles,’ kuay tiew rua is a spicy noodle dish with pork balls and soy sauce, and certainly one of the top Thai dishes to try this Thai New Year.

The dish is most distinctive for its deep brown broth accented by the green of the coriander and red of the red chilli pepper, both of which are used as a garnish. If you arrived here having Googled ‘Thai best dishes,’ this is one you’ll want to try – it definitely doesn’t disappoint!

Recipe: Fine Dining Lovers

Thai dish Kuay Tiew Rua

Image credit: Fine Dining Lovers

8.     Som tam

This one is a little bit different. A cold shredded salad, the key ingredient that makes a som tam stand out is papaya. Indeed, the recipe we’ve linked to below doesn’t include any meat or fish whatsoever – although the meal does lend itself well to prawns or even chicken if you prefer. Herb-wise, the star of the show is the Thai sweet basil, and the kick comes from the large number of fresh chillies – although you can tone that down if you don’t like it quite so hot!

Recipe: Eating Thai Food

9.     Pa plao

Our second recipe from Eating Thai Food is also a little unusual. Where we’ve so far presented a lot of curries, salads and ‘mixed bowl’ meals, pa plao is a juicy and salt-covered Thai grilled whole fish dish stuffed with lemongrass, and served with a hot chilli-based seafood dipping sauce. As Thai best dishes go, we think it’s one of the most impressive you could put on anybody’s plate.

Recipe: Eating Thai Food

10.     Foi thong

We’ve saved the sweetest for last with our final recipe – literally! ‘Foi’ in Thai means thread, and ‘thong’ means gold – which is appropriate for this authentic Thai dessert dish that’s essentially a deliciously sweet golden string made from sugar and egg.

It’s served on pandan leaves and traditionally eaten with chopsticks. But if you’re serving this up as one of the top Thai dishes at a British table, let’s be honest – a fork wouldn’t be cheating, would it?

Recipe: VR Recipes

Looking for more delicious herby food ideas?

So those are our suggestions for the Top 10 foods to try in Thailand this Thai New Year – or, more realistically, to make and enjoy at home for the family instead!

If you decide to make any, please do let us know how it goes in the comments below.

Want more recipes full of creative ways to use herbs and other fresh ingredients? Check out our blog ‘The Chopping Board,’ or jump to some of the most popular blog posts we’ve previously published below.

A full English breakfast

Herby Treats For Farmhouse Breakfasts

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Since 2000, January has been the time for Farmhouse Breakfast Week. However, After last year’s alternative lockdown take on the event, this year it seems to have gone on a hiatus. But that won’t stop us from taking matters into our own hands and sharing some of our favourite tasty breakfast ideas packed with fresh herbs!

What is a farmhouse breakfast?

A farmhouse breakfast (sometimes called a farm kitchen breakfast) is a breakfast using many of the ingredients you’d expect to find grown or reared fresh on a farm – from wholesome grains to delicious eggs and juicy meats. In truth, the term ‘farmhouse breakfast’ is often used interchangeably with a full English breakfast. So that’s what we’ll be focusing on here!

Below, we’ve picked out some tasty ideas that include everything you’d expect from a typical English breakfast, along with one or two more left-field ideas to spice up your breakfast plate.

What should be in a full English breakfast?

There’s no set definition of what a full English contains, but typically it’s a fry up breakfast including things like bacon, sausages, beans, eggs, toast, hash browns and freshly cooked vegetables like mushrooms and tomatoes.

The farm kitchen breakfast recipes we’ve sourced below include creative uses of fresh herbs and other ingredients. We’re biased, of course, but we think they make for the best English breakfast going.

Country-style full English breakfast hash with fresh parsley

Over in America, they call these dishes ‘country breakfast skillets.’ In the UK, we refer to them simply as a ‘hash.’ Either way, you’re getting an English fry up with a difference. Rather than presenting everything separately, you enjoy a jumble of delicious food, all cooked in a single pan where the flavours can meld together.

Image credit: Best Recipes UK

The British breakfast hash recipe we like the most is from Best Recipes UK. It packs in new potatoes, red onions, bacon lardons, free-range eggs and pork sausages alongside some finely chopped parsley, which gives the dish so much texture and richness. If you haven’t tried it, you simply have to – it’s that good!

Not eating meat? Try this one-pan veggie full English with rosemary from Alpha Foodie instead.

Image credit: HEB.com

This is one of the two left-field ideas we mentioned earlier. Avocado certainly isn’t a staple of a traditional English breakfast, but it’s become far more commonplace with the Americanisation of breakfast cuisine. And we have to say, we love it. It’s healthy, tasty, and works amazingly well with fresh herbs and spices.

When it comes to using avocado for breakfast, there are plenty of options. But we find these English muffin tostadas from HEB to be a particular delight. The combination of lemon and chives gives them a tangy yet rich, slightly oniony flavour that works together so well, and the addition of coriander lends even more depth to the taste. We also like to add some salt that isn’t in the recipe, further bringing out the satisfying richness of the avos!

A full breakfast in its own right, you can also spread these thinly and use them as a delicious alternative to buttered toast to have alongside a more traditional full English breakfast.

One word of warning: because this is an American recipe, you may need to convert some US measurements to UK-friendly ones. This page at Fab Flour should help.

Herb scrambled eggs with thyme, oregano, parsley and chives

If you like your eggs scrambled, this herby offering from Chev Savvy could be perfect either on its own, or as part of a larger English fry up.

Herb scrambled eggs with thyme, oregano, parsley and chives

Image credit: Chef Savvy

It’s actually a very slight ingredients list, with herbs making up most of the items. Which we absolutely love to see!

The parsley here acts as a garnish, while the thyme and oregano are designed to go into the egg mix itself. The chives meanwhile can be used either way. Or you could do what we do and use them as a bit of both!

Like your eggs a different way on the side of a full English? Try this perfect herb omelette recipe from Taste Australia instead.

Green chilli and parsley-infused yam hash browns

This novel hash brown recipe from Ndudu is the second of the two quirky and unusual recipes we mentioned earlier – and we absolutely love it, for precisely that reason!

It comes from a blog dedicated to modern West African dishes, and features grated yams and onions with pepper, parsley and deseeded green chillies for a little residual heat. It’s all bound together by an egg and then fried in a pan over a low heat. Easy!

Of course, yams are plentiful in both West Africa and America, yet can be especially hard to come by in the UK. But if you’re hoping to use this technique for your own English breakfast – fear not! Simply swap the yams for a grated sweet potato or two instead and keep everything else the same. It won’t be exactly the same, but it will still be darn tasty.

This recipe is great anywhere you’d typically want a hash brown, but it goes especially well with Ndudu’s full English, which you’ll find here.

Veggie breakfast fry up with rosemary or thyme and chilli flakes

Veggie breakfast fry up with rosemary or thyme and chilli flakes

Image credit: BBC Good Food

Lastly, we come to the quintessential British breakfast – but with a twist. This full English recipe from BBC Good Food is entirely vegetarian!

You can make it in just 30 minutes, and for our money the standouts are the liberal uses of either thyme or rosemary – along with the heat from the chilli flakes. (We tend to dry out our red chillies to make our own). At just 500 calories per serving, it’s a great way to get a full English into you while still committing to a new year diet. The lack of meat also means it’s a little lighter on the stomach, which is never a bad thing if you have a busy morning ahead.

Missing the meat from this recipe? Just swap the veggie sausages for meat ones, plus add bacon, chorizo bits, the hash brown, egg or muffin recipes we’ve shared above – or anything else that takes your fancy!

How do you like to use herbs at breakfast time?

So those are our suggestions for farmhouse breakfasts with a herby twist. Will you be trying any? Let us know in the comments below.

If we’ve whetted your appetite for more herb-filled tasty treats at breakfast time, then check out this page at Organic Authority for six more amazing ideas. Or head to The Chopping Board to get more inspiration on cooking with fresh herbs.

Have Yourself a Herby Little Christmas

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It’s that time of the year again! Thankfully, after last year’s bubbled-up six-person festivities, this year we can finally all return to throwing big festive bashes for families and friends alike.

Here at R&G Fresh, we’re always looking for ways to use fresh herbs and spices in our food and drink, and at Christmas we love nothing more than finding creative festive recipes to let us do exactly that!

These are some favourites we can’t wait to use this year. Read on for some of the best ways to incorporate herbs and fresh ingredients for Christmas 2021.

Red hot Santa Tini cocktail

Starting off your Christmas party with pre-dinner cocktails? You couldn’t get more festive than a Santa Tini!

This spicy blend of chilli-infused vodka, chocolate liqueur and whipped cream from Mix That Drink comes with a real kick that’ll work nicely as a tasty appetiser before the main meal. Our favourite part is the decorative red chillies that set the Santa Tini apart from other Christmas cocktails. Definitely one for the spice lovers in your life this holiday season!


Santa Tini cocktail with red chillies (easy on the tini)

Image credit: Mix That Drink

Roast Carrot & Black Bean Paté with ground coriander and ginger

Image credit: Yummly

Roast Carrot & Black Bean Paté with ground coriander and ginger

Who doesn’t love a little paté before a roast dinner? This recipe from Yummly is the perfect starter for your Christmas dinner because it’s a little lighter than your typical meat-filled spread.

The carrots and black beans work together deliciously, and the coriander and ginger, together with lemon and garlic, all serve to add a richness and zing that’ll go down a treat. For our money, coriander and ginger are two of the best Christmas herbs to use in food, and they work brilliantly here.

Christmas turkey crown full of fresh rosemary and flat-leaf parsley

Another two of the best Christmas herbs to use are rosemary and parsley. This scrummy BBC Good Food roast turkey crown recipe packs them both in alongside sliced pancetta, garlic cloves, lemon and even grated parmesan. (We’d also consider adding some thyme for extra earthy richness!).

The whole thing will take just over two and a half hours to prepare and cook in a pre-heated oven, and being a crown means there’ll be no bones to contend with when it comes to carving. Bonus!

Christmas turkey crown full of fresh rosemary and flat-leaf parsley

Image credit: BBC Good Food

Big herby Yorkshire pudding with chives

Big herby Yorkshire pudding with chives

Image credit: Food Network

Christmas dinner wouldn’t be the same without a Yorkshire pudding, and we absolutely love the novelty of this giant one from the Food Network.

Better still, the batter mix is infused with mixed herbs (the recipe recommends chives, and we’d go with that too) before being baked in the oven for about 15-20 minutes. The only real challenge is that with the size of it, finding space for it on the shelves amongst everything else could be tricky. We just hope you have a big enough oven!

Fruit mince tart with sage pastry

Fruit mince tart with sage pastry

Image credit: SBS

For dessert, we’ve ignored the traditional Christmas pud and gone for a twist on an altogether different British classic – the humble mince pie.

This festive mint tart recipe by SBS uses sage in the crust to give it a slightly bitter, lemony flavour that perfectly complements the ingredients in the spiced fruity filling.

Speaking of spices, the recipe doesn’t specify what goes into the spice mix, but we like to use equal amounts of cloves, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice (all ground to a fine powder). And that’s part of why we love this dish – it’s just one of the very best ways to incorporate herbs and spices for Christmas.

Homemade mulled wine

And finally, once everyone’s feeling full, why not wash down all that good festive grub with a hearty mug of warm mulled wine?

This mulled spice mix from All Recipes is made from a cinnamon stick and ground cinnamon along with cloves, nutmeg and more ground ginger (a particular Christmas favourite in this piece!).

Better yet, place these little spice packages in a fancy box with a bow around it and they make a great Christmas gift – meaning you can give the gift of fresh produce this festive season.

Homemade mulled wine

Image credit: All Recipes

What will you be eating and drinking this Christmas?

So, those are our suggestions to help you have yourself a herby little Christmas. In fact, if you looked very closely, you may have noticed that we worked 12 herbs and spices of Christmas in there:

  • Chillies
  • Coriander
  • Ginger
  • Rosemary
  • Parsley
  • Thyme
  • Chives
  • Sage
  • Cloves
  • Nutmeg
  • Cinnamon
  • Allspice

Just about the only thing we haven’t mentioned is mint. You can find that in this Merry & Bright festive cocktail mentioned over in our blog about using herbs and ingredients in drinks, and lots of food examples in our piece on our favourite herby lamb preparations.

And with that said, all that’s left to do is wish you a very Merry Christmas from everyone here at R&G Fresh!

The ultimate herb-filled food picnic platter

The Ultimate Herb-Filled Food Picnic Platter

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With National Picnic Week happening from 19th-27th June, we decided to help you elevate your picnic with fresh herb recipes the whole family will love!

Read on to learn about the fresh herbs to make your picnic better – and discover the recipes we reckon might make up the ultimate herb-filled food picnic platter.

Fennel and sage pork pies

Image credit: Sorted Club

You can’t go wrong with the humble pork pie – and we think this recipe from Sorted Club offers one of the very best herb-filled foods for a picnic.

Packed with pork belly and pork shoulder alongside echalion shallots, plus the titular fennel seeds and sage herbs, it also includes a sharp cider jelly and hot water crust pastry for a mouth-watering picnic treat!

Sage and onion sausage rolls

Sage and onion sausage rolls

Image Credit: Cookipedia

These sage and onion sausage rolls from the wonderfully named Cookipedia are called a Christmas favourite over on their website – but we say they’d be ideal for the ultimate herb-filled food picnic platter!

Just two teaspoons of finely chopped fresh sage brings a real richness to a recipe that also jams in sausage meat, chopped onions and poppy seeds into a fantastically flaky puff pastry casing.

Garlic and herb cream cheese

garlic and herb cream cheese

Image credit: allrecipes

You can’t have a picnic without a little bit of cheese (or a vegan alternative!) – and we’re especially big fans of a creamy one that’s equally suited for spreading or dipping.

That’s why we’ve picked this garlic and herb cream cheese from allrecipes for our ultimate herb-filled food picnic platter. The herbs included are dried dill weed, oregano, basil and thyme – all of which you can dry in a variety of ways.

With butter, cream cheese and parmesan all in there too, it’s probably not one for anyone on a health kick, or those avoiding dairy. However, this cashew cream-based vegan option from Minimalist Baker makes for a very tasty alternative!

Quinoa cucumber salad with feta, dill and mint

Quinoa cucumber salad with feta, dill and mint

Image credit: The Bojon Gourmet

No picnic would be complete without some leaves, and this quick fresh salad recipe by The Bojon Gourmet is one you and your picnic pals won’t want to leave alone until every last bit is gone!

The cucumbers and radishes give it a really satisfying crunch, while the feta gives it a creamy edge that’s perfectly complemented by a dressing made from garlic, olive oil, lemon, and vinegar. However, it’s the dill and mint we really love, adding a freshness and earthiness that’s rare, even for a homemade salad! Definitely two of our favourite fresh herbs to make your picnic better.

Cheesy ham and herb quiche

Image credit: Homemade in the Kitchen

Rosemary, thyme and parsley play a starring role in this summery quiche recipe from Homemade in the Kitchen. The blog’s author Carla says “the addition of fresh herbs paired with the saltiness of the ham really kicks the flavour up a notch” – and having tried it out for ourselves, we completely agree!

It’s definitely one of our best herb-filled foods for a picnic. Give it a try yourself; we’re sure you’ll think so too!

Rosemary-infused chocolate mousse

Rosemary-infused chocolate mousse

Image credit: The Flavour Bender

Like with any big meal, it’s always nice to finish with something sweet. And this rosemary-infused chocolate dessert from The Flavour Bender is a rich and delicious little bit of luxury that’s easily amongst the best herb-filled food for a picnic.

The rosemary adds an earthiness that’s unusual for a mousse, and really does balance out the sweetness of the chocolate – just as the recipe says. The best bit though is you can change up the amounts and types of chocolate you use, giving each batch you make a bit of a different flavour.

Being a mousse, you can place this dessert in ramekins or small Tupperware pots and whip them out to surprise guests at the end of your picnic. We’re sure they’ll love it – as long as they have room left by that point!

Happy picnicking!

So that’s our six tantalising recipes that make up the ultimate herb-filled food picnic platter for National Picnic Week and beyond. Which one are you most excited to try? Let us know in the comments below.

Looking for more tasty ways to use fresh herbs in your cooking? Head on over to The Chopping Board.

Steak and rosemary - a classic combination!

BBQing with Fresh Herbs: Our Top Tasty Combinations

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Barbecue season is finally upon us – though you might not know it from the UK weather in recent weeks! Hopefully the sun comes out to play soon and you can enjoy trying out the recipes we’ve featured below.

Here at R&G FRESH, we think fresh herbs can really up your BBQing game, creating a mix of wonderful flavours that are sure to impress family and friends alike.

So, to give you some summer grilling inspiration, we’ve collected ideas for what we think are the best herbs for a BBQ and how to use them.

Grilling with fresh herbs

One of our favourite herbs for grilling is rosemary. It has intense flavour and stands up well to the rigours of a high-heat grill. As it’s so robust, rosemary can also be used when smoking – just add whole stems to your smoker.

One great example of grilling with fresh herbs are these steak and rosemary skewers by My Garden Life. Simply remove the leaves from the bottom two-thirds of the rosemary stems, then, skewer the cubed meat and any vegetables you fancy adding to the mix. Finally, brush the kebabs with a marinade or olive oil and season with salt and pepper

steak and rosemary skewers

Image Credit: My Garden Life

BBQ cooking tends to lean toward strong-flavoured meats and fish, so you might also like to try cooking with thyme. It can add its own punchy flavour to the mix, making it easily one of the best herbs for a BBQ (in our opinion!).

An excellent grilling recipe involving fresh thyme is this grilled whole fish with lemon. The mix of flavours here makes for something much more interesting than your standard burger and sausages!

Making dry rubs with fresh herbs

If you’re wondering how a BBQ with fresh herbs can be even better, a rub could be just what you’re looking for!

Making a fresh herb dry rub for your next BBQ can add a whole new dimension to the flavour of your meats and fish. The fresh herbs you use can be down to personal preference, but a good rule of thumb is:

  • Rosemary, parsley, sage or basil go well with beef
  • Tarragon, basil, oregano and coriander go nicely with chicken
  • Sage, rosemary and thyme are great with pork
  • Oregano, thyme, fennel or dill is terrific with grilled fish.

Making a dry rub is fairly simple. Start by combining the finely chopped fresh herbs in a bowl with some salt and pepper. Then rub the mixture on both sides of your chosen meat or fish, cover it up, and leave it to marinate for at least an hour.

marinaded chicken

Fresh herbs with grilled veg

Fresh herbs don’t just go well with meat and fish; they also work amazingly with veggies! Especially when added to the dish toward the end of the cooking process or just after removing the vegetables from the grill.

A few ways you can add fresh herbs to your vegetables include:

  • Tomatoes can be accented with; basil, bay leaves, chives, dill, garlic, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, tarragon, and thyme
  • Carrots go well with bay leaves, chives, dill, marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley, tarragon and thyme
  • Sweetcorn can be enhanced with: dill, marjoram, parsley or thyme.

We especially love this veggie kebab recipe from All Recipes. They’re made with mushrooms, onion, red peppers and green peppers, along with fresh thyme and fresh rosemary.

veggie skewers

You can make them by threading the vegetables onto a skewer, alternating them as you go along. Once the skewers are prepped, mix together olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper. Then brush the mushrooms and peppers with the mixture.

After that, just place the skewers on the BBQ and cook until the mushrooms are tender and cooked through!

(We added some extras to our skewers. What would you add?)

Feeling inspired to get the grill going?

So that’s our blog on how to BBQ with fresh herbs! Have we inspired you to try some new recipes for any barbecues you have this summer? Let us know in the comments below.

For more of our recipes, check out The Chopping Board.

Woman enjoying the aroma of fresh herbs outside

Happy Herbs: Plants with Mood-Boosting Properties

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Did you know that planted snugly in the calendar each March is International Day of Happiness? It’s a day when everyone is officially encouraged to “find positive ways to look after ourselves and each other.”

That got us thinking about all the times we’ve turned to fresh herbs and plants to help us relax, smile, and spread a little joy in our lives.

We don’t just mean using herbs in cooking – though our produce is definitely great for that! Instead, we’ll be looking here at the best plants to boost your mood and how you can use them to do just that.

Herbs with mood-boosting properties

The International Day of Happiness website gives three positive steps we can all take when facing difficult times: keep calm, stay wise, and be kind.

With that in mind, we’ve sorted the plant suggestions below to help you do all three!

bottle of lemongrass oil and fresh lemongrass

Keep calm

There are many things in life we can’t control, but the way we respond to stressful situations is something we can.

One thing you might like to try in high-stress circumstances is brewing a cup of thyme tea. Thyme contains a compound called carvacrol which naturally calms and supports your nervous system. That makes sipping a thyme tea in the office, or at bedtime after a long day, both equally good ideas. You can find a great recipe here.

Another of the best plants to boost your mood is lemongrass. You can use it to make lemongrass oil, which has a fresh, citrusy scent that’s both clean and calming, helping to relieve irritability, prevent drowsiness, and even relax muscles when rubbed onto the skin. Best of all, it’s also really simple to make your own lemongrass oil. There are lots of recipes out there, but we found this one from Times of India simple to follow and highly effective.

Fresh Thyme on a plate

Stay wise

There’s a famous quote by Shakespeare that says “Rosemary is for remembrance.” That’s backed up by a study by the Department of Psychology at Northumbria University, which found that rosemary can boost memory in people aged 65 and over by up to 15%.

Whether you opt for a live rosemary plant or a fresh rosemary diffuser, there are many wonderful ways to disseminate this memory-boosting plant’s woody, evergreen scent. You can even mix it with other herbs to create your own special blend of diffuser oils!

Fresh mint tea in glass

Be kind

That same study from Northumbria University also found that mint tea enhances both mood and cognition. That means you’ll be both happier and more alert after a cup or two, and better able to remember things like birthdays and anniversaries thanks to mint’s proven boost to long-term memory.

There are nearly endless numbers of mint tea recipes out there, but we like this rather simple one from BBC Good Food. We’re sure you’ll like it too.

The last of our plants with mood-boosting properties meanwhile is fresh root ginger. It’s packed with vitamin B6, which boosts energy levels, and magnesium, which can help to ward off depression. Ginger has even been known to settle an upset stomach! All of which makes it one of the best things for someone who’s feeling fatigued, a little down in the dumps, or simply somewhat under the weather.

Ginger is an incredibly versatile plant and lends itself surprisingly well to a calming herbal tea. We especially enjoy this recipe from Taste of Home, which you’ll need to brew in a slow cooker over two to three hours.

Which herbs help your mood?

So that’s our blog inspired by this month’s International Day of Happiness: five herbs and other plants with mood-boosting properties. Are there any we might have mentioned? And how do you prefer to use them? Let us know in the comments below.

To find out more about using our herbs and ingredients in all sorts of creative ways, visit our fresh produce page or take a look at our blog, The Chopping Board.

birds eye view of man making cocktails with fresh herbs

Using Herbs and Ingredients in Drinks

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What goes into your favourite cocktail? If your automatic answer would be to list a selection of different types of alcohol… well, we’d forgive you!

The truth is that fresh herbs are an underrated, and often overlooked, but still rather key ingredient to some of the most popular concoctions around.

With plenty of occasions coming up, we can’t think of a better time to look at all the different ways to use herbs and ingredients in drinks.

How and when to use herbs in cocktails

As with any food or drink preparation, part of the success when using herbs and ingredients in drinks lies in pairing the right plants and liquor. The other part lies in preparing the herbs properly.

So before you begin mixing, here are the things we’d suggest you keep in mind:

Perfect pairings

Some drinks simply suit certain herbs perfectly. As a quick primer, those heaven-made matches include:

  • Coriander and tequila
  • Dill and vodka
  • Rosemary with any sweet citrus concoction
  • Basil and gin
  • Mint with… well, almost everything! (More on how to use mint leaves in drinks a little later).

Muddle it up

Instead of crushing your herbs like too many overzealous bartenders at the end of a day-long shift, take care using the proper tools. A muddler is essential here, used with a gentle, firm pressing motion that bruises rather than grinds your ingredients.

Done right, muddling will bring the oils to the surface, allowing them to infuse into the other liquids, bringing out the full flavour of your herb(s) of choice.

orange cocktail with mint sprig

Awaken the aromas

This part is less ‘using herbs and ingredients in drinks’, and more on drinks!

Cocktail creation is less a science and more an artform, and that extends to the presentation aspect. Herbs can be a beautiful finishing touch to a cocktail – but for an extra flourish, make sure you release the scents locked inside the leaves.

You can do this through a process called Awakening, whereby you hold the leaves you’ve chosen and bring down your other hand upon them in a gentle slapping motion. If you’ve done it right, you should smell the aroma of your chosen herb begin to fill the room. That’s when you’re ready to use it as a garnish.

Some of our best herb-infused cocktail recipes


We’ll start with the obvious choice – and by far and away the most versatile. Fresh mint’s smooth, refreshing flavour makes it an ideal way to take the edge of sharper citrussy drinks. However, it also works when paired with a startling variety of other ingredients – from lemon or lime, to chocolate and cream.

Mojitos and juleps might be the most immediate choices for a recipe, but at the time of writing we wanted to keep the winter feel. So instead, check out this creamy and delicious Merry & Bright cocktail recipe from Mountain Cravings.


Aromatic and earthy in its more common green variety, but spicier and clove-like in its less common purple one, basil makes for a pungent and powerful cocktail ingredient.

One of the most unique we’ve tried is The Fallen Leaf, which muddles both garden green and coppery purple basil leaves before shaking them with white rum, lemon and honey. Visit Kitchen Konfidence for the full recipe and method.

Fresh ginger

Finely-grated fresh ginger goes down incredibly well in a cocktail, giving beverages a strong, spicy flavour.

In particular, ginger complements sour drinks rather nicely – such as in this Ginger Lime Whiskey Sour recipe by Delish. Incredibly easy to make, the method involves cooking up a ginger simple syrup in a saucepan, before adding the mixture to a cocktail shaker with bourbon, lime juice and, perhaps unexpectedly, an egg white! (Don’t worry, it emulsifies with the alcohol, making it safe to consume).


cocktail with fresh rosemary, peppercorns and cucumber

Used in the right amounts, rosemary can add richness and depth to a beverage. Of course, being a ‘hard’ herb, its strong flavour means rosemary can overpower the other flavours too – making it one to be especially careful with.

That flavour profile makes rosemary especially ideal for citrus-infused gin drinks. One such example is this gin-based Rosemary Gimlet from chef David Lebovitz.


While our green, leafy produce might be a more obvious option in alcoholic beverages, our chillies can lend a nifty kick to any cocktail.

As recipes go, one of the simplest and most effective we’ve found is this mango, chilli and lime margarita from Taste. Blending tequila and lime juice with peeled fresh mangoes, sugar and half a fresh long red chilli, it’s a wonderfully fruity concoction with a little extra spice. (Our tip: cut slits into leftover chillies and slide one over the side of each glass as an extra-colourful garnish!).

Or for something a little creamier, Jamie Oliver’s frosty-looking boozy Christmas lemonade might go down a treat at New Year. Amongst its ingredients is a green jalapeno chilli, and just the one alcoholic ingredient: white rum (or alternatively Cahaca). Take out the latter and you can turn this into a tasty mocktail instead!

And that’s just a taster

As you can see, there are a number of ways to use fresh herbs in drinks. The only limit really is how creative (or possibly daring!) you’re willing to be.

If we’ve whetted your appetite, don’t stop there! The Spruce Eat’s blog ‘Using Herbs and Spices in Cocktails’ is full of more ways to use herbs and ingredients in drinks. Give it a read and turn opening your drinks cabinet into an adventure for the taste buds!

Feeling inspired? Visit our produce page to get an idea of the different herbs and ingredients you could add to your concoctions. Or head to The Chopping Board for our very own herb-infused food recipes.

Two wild boar marinated steaks with fresh herbs

When Should You Add Herbs to Your Cooking?

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Using herbs in your cooking is a great way of enhancing the flavour of your food, but do you know how and when to use them?

Here’s a quick guide that explains everything you need to know about cooking with herbs!

How to cook with herbs

Before we explain the best way to cook with herbs, we first have to understand the difference between the two variations:

Woody herbs tend to have tougher leaves while soft herbs have thin, fragile leaves. Due to this difference, you need to add them to your meals at different times.

As well as this, both woody and tender herbs can be used fresh, dried or frozen, which also plays a part in when you should add them to your dish.

When to add fresh herbs to your cooking

Soft herbs

Tender herbs, as we explained earlier, have soft stems and delicate leaves. As a result, whilst they impart robust flavours initially, the intensity can diminish with prolonged cooking.

For this reason, you should add soft herbs towards the end of the process, where they can deliver maximum flavour that doesn’t diminish due to heat damage.

Spicy pumpkin soup puree with ginger and herbs

Woody herbs

As mentioned before, woody herbs have tougher leaves and woody stems, so are much more robust. They are generally added during the cooking process and removed once the dish is ready. The heat helps the cells in the leaves to break down, so the fragrant oils can start interacting as the food cooks.

When to add frozen herbs to your cooking

Freezing herbs when they’re fresh is a great way to preserve them for future use. You can freeze them in oil, water or simply in the bag they came in.

Frozen woody herbs can be added early on in the cooking process, giving them plenty of time to thaw and infuse the dish.

Frozen soft herbs will defrost quicker, so you should add them a minute or so before you finish cooking, giving them time to warm up but not so much that it affects their flavour.

When to add herbs to uncooked dishes

Herbs can be used raw to enhance the taste of anything, including drinks, desserts and salads.

Salads, in particular, can be transformed from an ordinary plate of greens to something that smells and tastes delicious just by adding herbs.

If you are planning to use herbs at room temperature or served cold, you can add them as you prepare the dish.

Traditional Italian Pasta salad with herbs

If you’re a first-time herb user, you may find yourself worried about making mistakes, but don’t worry. Experimenting and learning is just part of the fun! The more you use them, the better your food will taste and you’ll get better with pairing different flavours together.

If you’re wondering which herbs to experiment with next, take a look at Our Produce section for inspiration. We also offer a selection of chillies and other ingredients to enhance your cooking, which may also get your creative juices flowing.

Do you have any questions about any of our fresh-cut herbs and ingredients? Please do get in touch with us and we will answer them for you.

fresh cut chives and mint

How to Store Your Fresh Cut Herbs & Ingredients So They Last Longer

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The lockdown, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, affected many aspects of our lives.

One change was that people started experimenting with new recipes, some of which included fresh herbs, as was evidenced by the herb sales surge reported by Waitrose.

At R&G FRESH, we are passionate about encouraging people to use more fresh herbs and ingredients in cooking, so we are excited about this trend. However, we are also aware that you as a consumer want to make the most out of your purchase too.

That’s why we decided to offer our advice and expertise on how to store your fresh cut herbs and ingredients so they last longer.

Different types of fresh herbs

Before we talk about how to store fresh cut herbs, it’s important to understand the difference between hard herbs and soft herbs. The reason why this distinction is important is because the two types ‘behave’ quite differently from each other.

Understanding this difference allows us to treat them the right way, helping to prolong their freshness.

Soft herbs

bunch of basil and dill herbs

Soft, or tender, herbs have fleshy, delicate stems and a strong flavour that loses its intensity upon cooking, which is why these herbs are usually added at the end of the cooking process. Some examples of soft herbs are:

  • Coriander
  • Basil
  • Mint
  • Chives
  • Dill
  • Parsley
  • Lovage
  • Marjoram
  • Sorrel
  • Tarragon

Since they are quite fragile, they need to be treated differently from hard herbs.

Woody herbs

fresh cut hard herbs sage, rosemary and thyme

Hard, or woody, herbs are sturdier than their soft counterparts and are added to a dish during the cooking process, where they slowly release their flavour. Usually grown in warmer climates, these herbs have woody stems and tougher leaves that are resistant to moisture loss. As a result, they keep for much longer.

Woody herbs include:

  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Lime leaves
  • Lemongrass
  • Curry leaves
  • Bay leaves
  • Lemon thyme

What are the factors that affect herb freshness?

Fresh herbs are still respiring after being harvested and as such, need certain conditions in which to thrive. When they were a part of a plant, they could manage their own conditions and remain healthy.

Here are the factors that affect herb freshness.


Whilst plants need light for photosynthesis, fresh-cut herbs actually don’t require light. In fact, exposure to bright light can turn their leaves yellow as it damages the chlorophyll (the green pigment that is responsible for photosynthesis).


Again, while almost all living entities require oxygen, most cut herbs start turning brown if they are exposed to too much air.


All fresh-cut herbs require an optimum amount of moisture to remain fresh. Too little and they start drying, but too much and they start rotting.


Temperature plays a significant role in ensuring herb freshness. Too warm, and the metabolic rate goes up and the herbs start deteriorating at a faster rate. Too cold, and the water inside the cells freezes and damages the cell walls, leading to your fresh herbs becoming mushy.

The best temperature to store fresh herbs is 3° C to 5° C This is the temperature range inside refrigerators, making them the ideal place to keep your fresh produce.

With these factors in mind, here are our recommendations on how to store your fresh cut herbs so they last longer.

The best way to store fresh cut herbs

In the fridge

If you’re storing woody herbs in the fridge try to keep them in their original packaging, or in an airtight container.

As with woody herbs, soft herbs should be kept in their original packaging until they are needed. Any leftovers should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge.

The only exception here is basil, whose leaves start discolouring if the temperature is low. It should be kept out of the fridge, at room temperature, where it gets light but not direct sunlight.

Using these methods, you can store your fresh herbs for up to two weeks.

In the freezer

chopped up fresh herbs in ice cube tray

When using herbs as garnish, you want them looking fresh and beautiful so keeping them in the fridge is best. However, if they are going to be used in cooking, you want to preserve their flavour more than their appearance.

If that is the case, you can freeze any leftovers you may have.

To do that, simply remove them from their packaging, chop them, and put them in ice trays. You can pack in the chopped leaves alone or top them up with a flavourless oil (like sunflower oil) or water. Once frozen into cubes, you can pop them out of the tray and store them in freezer bags.

Out of the three options, you’ll get the best flavour if you use oil. However, you can freeze your herbs for weeks, if not months by placing them in a plastic bag.

Simply take out as many herb cubes as you need for the recipe and add to the dish as it cooks. The heat will melt the frozen cube, releasing the herb’s flavour into your food.

How to store fresh ingredients so they last longer

In addition to herbs, we offer a range of other ingredients that help you take your cooking to the next level. Here’s how to store some of them so they last longer.


Freezing chillies is a great option. They defrost rapidly so can be used as fresh. To store chillies, take them out of their packaging and remove the stem and the ‘cap’ that joins it to the body, as this is where they start growing mouldy. These can then be stored in a container lined with a kitchen towel.

Root ginger

The best way to store root ginger is in the refrigerator without cutting it up. The skin of this rhizome keeps moisture in, allowing it to last for around three weeks.

If you want to store it for longer, you can freeze the root whole or mince it first. When freezing it whole, leave the skin on and put it in a freezer bag. You can then take it out when you need it and grate what you need without thawing it.

You can also mince or grate the ginger to get a paste, which you can portion out into an ice tray without any additional water or oil needed. Once frozen, the cubes can be transferred into a freezer bag and you can simply take out as many cubes as you need in your cooking.

Turmeric root

Whilst most commonly used as a dried powder, turmeric root has a much fresher flavour and will impart that same golden colour to the dish.

Like root ginger, it can be stored in the fridge or freezer after you’ve washed it well and dried it thoroughly. Since moisture leads to mould, drying it well is important. It also helps if you wrap it loosely in a kitchen towel and then put it in a bag before it goes into the fridge.

To freeze it, cut up the root into portion-sized chunks and put in a freezer bag. Squeeze out the excess air from the bag before sealing and freeze.

When you need it for a recipe, you can take out exactly as much as you need, without having to thaw the entire quantity.

Padrón peppers

Padrón peppers are also called ‘Spanish Roulette’ as most of them are sweet, but once in a while, you get one that is hot! These peppers can be stored in the fridge in a plastic bag and best kept in the vegetable drawer.

Edible flowers

Edible flowers are very delicate, and normally don’t last more than two or three days. However, you can keep them for up to a week if you keep them on a damp paper towel inside a container in the fridge.

As you can see, storing fresh herbs and ingredients is quite easy. If done properly, you can enjoy their delicious flavour for several weeks.

If you’re interested in trying out different ingredients in your kitchen, our range of fresh produce might inspire you. For any questions you may have, please do get in touch.


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