Herbs are plentiful in spring, summer, and fall. You’ll find them in bunches, almost like small bouquets, at farmers’ markets, farm stands, and in the grocery aisle. Fresh herbs add nuance to your cooked dishes and can also be chopped and added to salads or used to garnish any meal. Most herbs can be kept in a glass of water on the counter or in the fridge, where you’ll see them often and remember to put them to use. Expect fresh herbs to last a week or more if stored properly.

Favorites to look for:

  • Thyme: The tiny leaves of the thyme plant are easy to strip from the twiggy branches. Thyme is a good addition to savory dishes like grilled meats and stews. There are many varieties, and lemon scented is commonly available – great to accompany fish. Any thyme variety makes a good addition to salad or salad dressing.
  • Basil: Heat-loving basil often doesn’t start thriving in Maine gardens until July, but is plentiful in farmers’ hoophouses. A big bunch will make you kitchen smell divine! Chop it to top vegetables, add at the last minute to pasta dishes, tear it into salads, or chop it finely to sprinkle on watermelon slices for a new flavor combination. Sweet basil, with its large, oval, shiny green leaves, is the most common, but look for others, like purple ruffle and Thai basil.
  • Rosemary: This plant looks like an evergreen shrub, and indeed is evergreen in the Middle East. It’s incredibly fragrant, and adds an earthy, scented flavor to meat dishes. Remove the “needles” and chop finely to add to marinades and bread crumb toppings. Rosemary is also a delicious topping for focaccia and other breads – with a little olive oil, the bread becomes a delicious side for any meal.