Thursday, October 30, 2008
Erb or Herb?
No matter how you say it, herb (silent h) or herb (hard h) it's the same. But what is the difference between an herb and a spice? Here are two definitions from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
Main Entry: herb
Pronunciation: \ˈərb, US also & British usually ˈhərb\
Usage: often attributive
Etymology: Middle English herbe, from Anglo-French, from Latin herba
Date: 14th century
1: a seed-producing annual, biennial, or perennial that does not develop persistent woody tissue but dies down at the end of a growing season
2: a plant or plant part valued for its medicinal, savory, or aromatic qualities
— herb·like \ˈ(h)ərb-ˌlīk\ adjective
— herby \ˈ(h)ər-bē\ adjective
Main Entry: 1spice
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French espece, espis, from Late Latin species product, wares, drugs, spices, from Latin, appearance, species — more at species
Date: 13th century
1: any of various aromatic vegetable products (as pepper or nutmeg) used to season or flavor foods
2 aarchaic : a small portion, quantity, or admixture : dash b: something that gives zest or relish
3: a pungent or fragrant odor : perfume
— spice·less \-ləs\ adjective
It's important to note that there are divisions within the herb categories, also.
Many plants cross over between medicinal herbs and culinary herbs and one such herb is sage. Fresh sage has a slight lemony flavor, but when dried it is much stronger. We often think of this herb when we think of turkey and stuffings/dressings. As a medicinal herb it can aid in digestion, soothe coughs, and is also an antiseptic. Besides all of this sage has beautiful blue and lavender flowers in the spring. If you intend to harvest it, it is best to do so before flowering, then cut back the plant after flowering and continue pruning throughout the season.
If you're like me and already planning on next spring's plantings, you might want to keep sage in mind.
Don't forget to visit An Herbal Bedfellow for healthy recipes made with herbs, and also my newest blog:
Happenstance House -- A journal about my Victorian home and all of it's contents.