Culinary Herbs

Course CodeVHT242
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Growing Culinary Herbs

Add a New Dimension to Your Cooking

Take food into a whole new dimension with herbs. There are hundreds of edible herbs that can be used to flavour, decorate or subtly enhance your cooking. There are even herbs that can be used to make drinks (hot and cold). Learn to identify, grow and use these many culinary herbs; for personal or professional purposes.

Comment from one of our Culinary Herb students:

"I have found the course interesting and it has expanded my knowledge of herbs immensely" D. Christian


Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • Scope and Nature of Culinary Herbs
    • Herbs and Horticulture
    • Accurately Identifying Herbs
    • Plant Classification, binomial system
    • Finding the group a herb fits into -Monocotyledons and Dicotyledons, Plant Families
    • Pronouncing Plant Name
    • Resources - information contacts (ie. nurseries, seed, clubs etc.
  2. Culture
    • Overview
    • Soils
    • pH Requirements
    • Improving soild
    • Potting mixes
    • Plant Nutrition and Fertilizers
    • Water Management for Herbs
    • Diagnosing Plant Health Problems
    • Pests, Disease and Environmental Problems
    • Planting, staking, and establishing herb plants, etc.
  3. Growing Herbs
    • Propagation of herbs
    • Seed Propagation
    • Cutting Propagation
    • Potting Media
    • Division, Separation, Layering
    • Rejuvenation of Perennials
    • Designing a Culinary Herb Garden
    • Creating a Kitchen Garden
    • Planning a Fragrant Herb Garden
    • Companion Planting in Your Design
  4. Cooking With Herbs
    • General Guidelines for Using Herbs in Cooking
    • Harvesting Herbs; roots, leaves, seed, fruits
    • Handling after Harvest
    • Drying Herbs
    • Hints for Using a Range of Selected Herbs in Cooking
    • Herbs For Garnish
    • Herbal Teas: What & how to use different herbs
    • Herb Vinegars, oils, butters, cheeses, salts, sugars, honey,, etc
    • Herb Confectionary, Cakes, etc.
    • Selected Herb Recipes
    • Using Herbs with Fruit
  5. Most Commonly Grown Varieties.
    • Review of many Common Culinary herbs, including their culture and culinary use
    • Over 20 herbs reviewed in detail, incl. Alliums
    • Many additional herbs summarized
  6. Other Important Groups.
    • Lamiaceae (mint family) herbs
    • Lemon Scented Herbs and their uses
    • Hyssop
    • Mints
    • Bergamot
    • The Basils
    • Origanum species
    • Rosemary
    • Salvias
    • Thymes
    • Lavenders
  7. The Lesser Grown Varieties
    • Agastache
    • Agrimony
    • Visnaga
    • Apium
    • Arctium lappa
    • Bundium
    • Capparis; and many more
    • Using Australian Native Plants as Flavourings
  8. Special Assignment
    • A PBL Project on a selected genus of culinary herbs


  • Describe the plant naming system, the major family groups that herbs fall into and the resources available to the culinary herb grower.
  • Describe how to manage the cultural requirements of culinary herbs.
  • Describe the various methods of propagation, both sexual and asexual, the treatments generally used for seed storage and the handling of cutting material.
  • Explain the way in which herbs are used in cooking and which herbs best suit various dishes.
  • Discuss the most common herb varieties used in cooking.
  • Compare a range of culinary herbs in a single plant family.
  • Discuss a range of lesser grown culinary herb varieties.
  • Explain the uses of a range of culinary herbs within a specific group of herb plants.

Cooking With Herbs

Herbs are not foods in the strict sense of the word, but they do provide essential nutrients in the diet, not to mention the flavour they can add to foods. Foods cooked with herbs bear no comparison with food which does not use herbs. Bland and unattractive food can be made exciting and far more interesting with the addition of herbs.

It is important to use herbs correctly though!

Too much of a particular herb can make the flavour overpowering and completely overshadow the natural flavour of the food it is added to. Too little of an herb in a food will achieve nothing. The addition of herbs must be balanced to complement the flavours which are already in a food. It is important to blend different herbs in appropriate ratios to achieve the best results.

  1. The amount of flavour imparted to food by a herb depends on many things.
  2. The stage of growth at which the herb was harvested.
  3. The way the herb was grown – more fertiliser and too much water produces herbs with less flavour
  4. The part of the plant which is used.
  5. The time of year the herb is harvested.
  6. The length of time the herb is left to stand in liquid or solid mixtures before it is used.
  7. The temperature which the mixture is at while the herb is standing in it.
  8. The temperature the dish is cooked at.
  9. The length of time the dish is cooked.
  10. The moisture content of the dish which is being cooked (eg. a stew will absorb flavours differently to a piece of barbequed meat.

There are other factors as well: herbs can be used in cooking many different ways as freshly picked parts off the plant, or as dried parts or products.

Herbs also freeze quite successfully - for example: basil retains its flavour when frozen but tends to change flavour when dried. It is important when freezing leaves that they are unwashed as washing tends to make them go black during the freezing process. It is important to use only herbs that are grown organically when freezing without washing (no chemical or other sprays used - this includes pyrethrum and home made sprays). Clean herbs by patting with a dry tea towel, remove all woody stalks, pack loosely in bags and freeze.

  • Fresh - most have a stronger flavour if used fresh; and this use is generally preferred. Basil for example is best used fresh or made into pesto and then used as needed (pesto will last around 10 days in the refrigerator if topped with a little oil.
  • Dried - many retain flavour well on drying; others do not. Parsley and chervil for example do no retain their flavour well whereas oregano does.
  • Products - herbs soaked in vinegar or oil transfer the flavour to the vinegar or oil. The vinegar or oil can then be used when preparing food to add the desired herb flavour. There are of course many other culinary herb products you can make and try.



  • Horticulturists, market gardeners, herb farmers, nurserymen
  • Cooks, Chefs, Food Professionals
  • Enthusiastic home gardeners, housewives; or anyone interested in herbs in the kitchen




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