A recent reader asked what herbs are used in the German cuisine, how its stored, and prepared in the foods.
In this Article I will attempt to write down the few basics of herbal usage in cuisine but also some information of herbal usage on the market for medical usage which was interesting as having not known many things myself, therefore if you see mistakes on my part or have some recipes yourself that includes herbs and spices for German cuisine , your input is highly welcome.
Germany is a place of contrast and continuity, where the past is never far from the present, embraced seamlessly as if time were nonexistent. When engaged in conversation about herbs, one is likely to hear the name Hildegard of Bingen, evoked as if the 12th-century nun were someone’s grandmother who had died just yesterday. Hildegard, author of Physica (Natural Science), the first herbal written by a woman, lived from 1098 to 1179. Her herbal was published in 1533 — a short time ago by German standards.
The therapeutic use of herbs is a longstanding tradition in Germany. A 1901 law, reaffirmed in 1961, allows for the sale of herbal medicines as drugs, giving them special status as medicinal agents, a unique situation compared with other European countries. In essence, throughout the 20th century up to the present, herbs sold with the intent of curing, alleviating or preventing disease or symptoms of illness have been allowed in the German market as drugs.
German research and herbal products have driven the U.S. market. Today, we turn to Germany for scientific information on herbs, including American medicinal plants. Much of the scientific data — chemical, pharmacological and clinical — on the best-selling herbs comes directly from German research. Many of the best-selling herb products in the United States also come from Germany.
Under German drug laws, there is a separate drug registration category for herbal medicines, also known as phytomedicines. In the United States, the very same herbs — often the same products — are regulated as “dietary supplements.” Dietary supplements are categorized as foods rather than drugs, even though they may provide the consumer with health benefits.
Spices and herbs in food.
Food in Germany are rarely spiced or heavily seasoned, Likewise Garlic does not play much of a roll in cooking, although the more modern recipes are beginning to use this. Its no surprise to find curry or hot spices in the modern German cuisine.
But the following herbs and spices commonly used in German cuisine or would rather say are of old tradition:
Bay Leaves- (Lorbeerblätter)
Bay leaves have a savory, slightly bitter taste.Their fragrance is herbal and slightly floral. They are used both fresh and dried, although fresh bay leaves are hard to find. Bay leaves add depth and richness to foods. They are most often added to soups, stews, casseroles, roasts, and other long-cooking dishes. They are usually added whole, then removed before the dish is served. Bay leaves should be used sparingly as they are very potent.
Borage- (Borretsch, Gurkenkraut)
leaves are oval, light to medium green, and are covered with fuzzy bristles. The leaves can get quite large – up to 6 inches in length. Their taste and aroma are similar to fresh cucumbers, which is why it is also known in Germany as Gurkenkraut (Cucumber Herb). Borage leaves are most often used fresh in salads and dips. It is also an ingredient in Frankfurter Grüne Sosse. It is also mixed into butter, with other herbs, to make herb butter and herb- quark, a sort of cream cheese, Borage blooms, small blue flowers, are also edible and are often added to salads as decoration.
Caraway Seeds (Kümmel)
Caraway is a member of the parsley family. Although they are called “seeds”, caraway seeds are actually the small fruit of the caraway plant. They are sweet yet strong and have a taste similar to anise. Caraway seeds are most often added to cabbage dishes (especially Sauerkraut , sauces, meat dishes, breads, and potato dishes.
Juniper berries- (Wacholderbeere)
Are the dried fruits of the juniper shrub. They are slightly sweet, spicy, and bitter. The berries can be used whole or ground. Whole berries cooked in recipes should be mashed before serving. Juniper berries are most often added to game, Sauerkraut, marinades, spicy roasts and casseroles. They are also used in pickling.
Thyme leaves are elongated, oval, and dark green. Their stems are short, green, and woody. Both fresh and dried thyme are used – both blend well with other herbs and spices. It is most often added to roasts and spicy meat dishes, as well as to soups and salads.