Spice Up Your Garden: Culinary Herbs Trends for 2023
By Ryan Dorn, SouthernSeeds.com
In the vibrant world of gardening and cuisine, trends can shift like the wind, and staying ahead of the curve is essential. That's where we come in. Here at Southern Seeds, we don't just sell seeds—we immerse ourselves in the gardening community, picking up on the ebbs and flows of what's hot and what's not. We've noticed a budding interest in one specific area this year: culinary herbs.
Culinary herbs are the silent stars of the kitchen, packing a flavorful punch in every leaf and sprig. More and more gardeners and chefs are exploring the world of herbs and finding ways to incorporate them into their meals. Based on our observations and data for 2023, we've compiled a list of the top 15 culinary herbs soaring in popularity this year. This list isn't just about what's popular, but it also explores the rich historical significance and varied uses of these herbs.
So, whether you're a seasoned chef looking for fresh inspiration or a budding green thumb deciding what to plant next, this list is for you. Grab your trowel or your whisk, and let's dive into the fragrant and flavor-filled world of culinary herbs!
Standing proud at the top of the popularity ladder is Sweet Basil. This delightful herb is the heart and soul of numerous cuisines, from the fragrant pho of Vietnam to the rich pasta sauces of Italy. Basil plants are lush and beautiful, emitting an aroma that's almost as irresistible as the flavor they add to dishes.
Beyond the kitchen, Sweet Basil has a rich history of medicinal use. Traditional Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine have long recognized basil's potential benefits for digestion and mental health, and modern science is starting to back this up. For home growers, Sweet Basil offers not just a culinary treat, but also an opportunity to delve into the world of herbal remedies.
There's no time like thyme in the garden, and that's especially true for Garden Thyme, one of our best sellers here at Southern Seeds. This petite, aromatic herb hailing from the Mediterranean region has been a staple in kitchens for centuries, and it's easy to understand why. With its potent, earthy flavor that's somewhat minty and yet slightly sweet, thyme brings an unmistakable depth to a variety of dishes, from hearty stews to delicate fish plates, roasted meats, and more.
The cultural significance of thyme is as rich as its flavor profile. The ancient Greeks considered thyme a symbol of bravery and courage, and in the medieval times, ladies would often give sprigs of thyme to knights as a sign of courage. These days, thyme continues to be a brave little herb, able to withstand even the coldest of winters to add warmth and flavor to our meals.
Securing the third position, Lemon Balm offers a delightful twist on your everyday herbs. While Lemon Balm being ranked this high for 2023 surprised even us, this fragrant plant carries a zesty scent reminiscent of lemons, hence the name. It's an excellent addition to salads, poultry dishes, and drinks, and makes a soothing tea that's been enjoyed since ancient times.
Historically, Lemon Balm has been cherished for its medicinal properties. It has been used to reduce anxiety, help with sleep, improve digestion, and treat a range of other conditions. With its beauty and easy care, it's a great addition to any garden, offering culinary and health benefits alike.
In the fourth spot, we find Cilantro Calypso. This particular variety is a slow bolting type, which means it takes longer to produce seeds, giving you more time to harvest its flavorful leaves. Cilantro is key to many Mexican, Thai, and Indian dishes, and its unique flavor adds a punch to any meal.
Cilantro has been used in traditional medicine as a digestive aid, and current research suggests it might also have potent antimicrobial properties. As an added bonus, it's a magnet for beneficial insects, making it a beneficial addition to your garden.
Rounding out our top five, Common Mint brings a refreshing twist to any dish. Mint is a versatile herb, enhancing everything from savory dishes and cocktails to desserts and teas. With its vigorous growth and refreshing scent, it's a wonderful plant to have in the garden.
Mint has a long history of use in traditional medicine, particularly in treating digestive issues. It's also valued in aromatherapy for its uplifting, invigorating scent. Whether you're growing it for the kitchen, the medicine cabinet, or just for its beauty, mint is a plant that keeps on giving.
Coming in at number six, we have Common Chives. These delightful perennial herbs add a subtle onion flavor to dishes and are particularly good in salads, egg dishes, and potato recipes. Easy to grow and with a long harvest season, chives are a staple in many kitchens.
Chives have been cultivated for their culinary uses for thousands of years, but they were also prized for their medicinal properties. They were often used for their mild stimulant, diuretic, and antiseptic properties. Besides, chives are a delightful addition to a garden, offering a burst of purple when they flower.
The seventh position is taken by Italian Parsley, a staple in Mediterranean cuisine. Its robust, slightly peppery flavor sets it apart from its curly cousin and makes it a great addition to dishes like pasta, soups, and sauces.
Beyond its culinary use, parsley has a long history of medicinal use. It was used by the ancient Greeks and Romans for its diuretic properties and to improve digestion. Growing parsley in your garden not only gives you a flavorful herb at your fingertips but also attracts beneficial insects.
At number eight, Italian Oregano is an essential herb for any serious cook. Its peppery, slightly bitter flavor is integral to Italian and Greek dishes. From pizza and pasta to roast meats and vegetables, oregano brings a warmth that is irreplaceable.
Historically, oregano was cherished by the ancient Greeks and Romans for its medicinal qualities. It was commonly used to treat skin conditions and respiratory ailments. Today, it's being studied for its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Next up at number nine, Spearmint is another variation of mint that's adored for its sweet, delicate flavor. It's perfect in a range of dishes, from sweet to savory, and makes a refreshing tea.
Like other types of mint, spearmint has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. It's known for its soothing properties and is commonly used to aid digestion. Spearmint is also a fantastic plant to have in your garden, not just for its culinary and medicinal uses, but also for its beautiful, fragrant leaves.
Rounding out the top ten, Broadleaf Sage is an herb that's packed with flavor. Its robust, slightly peppery taste with hints of mint and pine is a classic in poultry stuffing and sausages, and it adds depth to a variety of meat dishes.
Sage has a long history of medicinal use, being appreciated by ancient societies for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. In the garden, its grey-green foliage and beautiful purplish-blue summer flowers make it a joy to grow.
Dwarf Fernleaf Dill
Securing the eleventh spot is the amazing Dwarf Fernleaf Dill. This delightful variety of dill is beloved for their feathery leaves and robust flavor. It’s essential in a variety of dishes, from pickles and dips to salads and seafood.
Dill has deep cultural roots, being used extensively in Scandinavian, Eastern European, and Middle Eastern cuisines. It was also revered in the ancient world for its medicinal properties, being used by the Greeks and Romans as a digestive aid and to treat inflammation. In the garden, these dwarf dill varieties are perfect for small spaces but provide plenty of the beloved herb for kitchen use.
In the twelfth position, we find Tarragon. This herb is a bit unique: while French Tarragon is the most popular variety due to its superior flavor, it is sterile and cannot be grown from seeds. The available alternatives are Russian Tarragon and Mexican Mint, which is very close to French Tarragon in flavor.
Tarragon's warm, subtle flavor with hints of anise is beloved in many French dishes, and it's known for its ability to elevate chicken, fish, and egg dishes to the next level. Historically, tarragon has been used for medicinal purposes, primarily for its ability to stimulate the appetite and aid digestion.
Ranking thirteenth, Greek Oregano brings a punch of flavor to every dish it touches. It's more robust and less sweet than its Italian cousin, making it perfect for heartier dishes like grilled meats and hearty stews.
Like other varieties of oregano, Greek Oregano was treasured in ancient Greece and Rome for its medicinal properties, and it continues to be used today in herbal medicine. Its hardiness and beautiful white flowers also make it a fantastic addition to any garden.
Coming in at number fourteen, Garlic Chives are an amazing blend of onion and mild garlic flavor. They're commonly used in Asian cooking, adding a delicate aroma and taste to stir-fries, soups, and dumplings.
Medicinally, Garlic Chives have been used for their antibacterial and antiviral properties, and they're rich in vitamins and minerals. These hardy perennials are not only great to have in the kitchen, but they're also an attractive addition to the garden with their beautiful white flowers.
Last but not least, Marjoram takes the fifteenth spot. This delicate herb has a sweet, slightly citrusy flavor that pairs well with a variety of dishes, from meats and vegetables to soups and sauces.
Historically, marjoram has been used to help with digestion and respiratory issues, among other things. It's also a beautiful plant to grow, with its tiny white flowers and aromatic leaves making it a delightful addition to any garden.
Bonus: Lemon Basil
We can't resist adding one more to the list: Lemon Basil. This vibrant herb has been skyrocketing in popularity and combines the robustness of basil with the refreshing zest of lemon, making it a fantastic addition to a wide range of dishes. Plus, it brings a lovely aroma to any garden, making it a pleasure to grow.
And there we have it—the top 15 culinary herbs in all their flavorful glory. From the ubiquitous Basil and Mint to the uniquely versatile Parsley, these herbs represent a world of culinary potential waiting to be unlocked. Their diverse flavors, coupled with their rich histories and multitude of uses, make them indispensable additions to any kitchen garden.
As we navigate the ever-evolving landscape of culinary trends, it's clear that these herbs will continue to shape our palates and cultures. They're not just ingredients; they're testaments to our shared culinary heritage and our collective desire to explore and experiment with flavors.
For those inspired to bring these herbs into your own garden and kitchen, we have just the thing for you: Southern Seeds' Culinary Herb Seed Collection. This expertly curated collection offers a convenient and cost-effective way to grow these top 15 culinary herbs right in your own backyard. Each seed in the collection has been carefully selected for its quality and potential, offering you the best start on your herbal adventure.
So, why wait? Dive into the world of culinary herbs, experience their transformative power, and who knows—you might just find your new favorite flavor along the way. Happy gardening and bon appétit!