Crafted with fresh herbs from the gurktal alps.

KNOWLEDGE OF HERBS

The A to Z guide to herbs

B

BASIL – Basilicum

History

Over 4,000 years ago, the Indians regarded basil as being a sacred herb. Accordingly, its Greek name describes it as a “royal medicinal plant”. It has two colour tones, is a hardy plant, and has a distinctive aroma with pink blossom.

Positive qualities

Basil is a source of vitamin A and C, calcium and iron. It has tannins, that stimulate the appetite and aid digestion. Additionally, it soothes migraines, insomnia and anxiety. It is usually used in aromatherapy, due to its calming and invigorating effect, and is also given for depression.

Use

It is the main ingredient for the infamous pesto. Basil is also an aroma infused with cooking oil, marinades and of course, for basil vinegar.

C

CATMINT – Nepeta Cataria

History

The catmint has a pleasant, bitter and lemony taste, with an aroma that is reminiscent of mint. Catmint attracts sexually mature cats, and can have an euphorigenic effect on every second cat that comes into contact with it.

Positive qualities

The brewed tea reduces fever and encourages sweating, is an anticonvulsant, is cleansing and diuretic. It is also said to help against chronic bronchitis and prevent infections, due to its antibacterial properties.

Use

It stimulates the appetite before meals, and encourages digestion after eating. In former times, the leaves were chewed to comfort toothache, or used to season meat. Nowadays, its most common use is to brew tea.

CHERVIL – Anthriscus Cerefolium

History

Chervil originates from the Middle East, yet is now well established here in Austria. If you tear the fresh leaves, the herb has a delicate scent. It loses its fine aroma, however, when cooked or dried.

Positive qualities

Chervil is rich in vitamin A and C, as well as magnesium and iron. Even the ancient Romans acknowledged that a brew of its leaves was an aid to urinary retention, liver diseases and kidney problems. Chervil is blood-building and blood-purifying, and promotes the metabolism and is cleansing.

Use

The leaves are ideal to season soups, omelettes, fish, meat and vegetable dishes.

CHIVES – Allium Schoenoprasum

History

Chives are related to both the onion and garlic. It is acknowledged for its use in cooking. The fact that it is also a healing plant, is, however, less known.

Positive qualities

Chives is rich in vitamin A and C, along with mineral traces. Fresh leaves and blossom have a beneficial effect on the digestion. As with all other leek species, chives are mucus-dissolving, antibacterial and diuretic. At the same time, it is also beneficial for blood vessels.

Use

The leaves are best cut in small slices, and are spread evenly over salads, soups and sandwiches. Chives taste great with potatoes, eggs and fish.

CURRY PLANT – Helichrysum Italicum

History

The “immortal” herb originally comes from the Mediterranean, and can grow between 40 and 100 centimetres in height.
A highly intensive scent of curry is released by simply rubbing the aromatic leaves, which is highly recognisable after rainfall.

Positive qualities

An oil can be produced from the blossom and herb, and can be used to soothe bruises and small injuries. Curry plant is also beneficial for coughs, skin blemishes and itchy skin.

Use

One sprig of curry plant, boiled with vegetables and rice, gives the dish a mild curry aroma. Tea can also be prepared for the treatment of skin conditions, wet packs and for baths.

D

DILL – Anethum Graveolens

History

Dill originates from the eastern regions of the Mediterranean and Western Asia.
It is an annual herb, that blooms between July and September. It can be used widely and is really easy to cultivate.

Positive qualities

Dill has been used in natural medicine for a long period of time. The ancient Greeks treated hiccups with dill. It also soothes trapped wind and relieves anxiety. It is said to be beneficial against insomnia.

Use

The seeds are used when cooking soups, fish dishes, pickled vegetables, dill butter and bread. Dill in bloom is an attractive flower that enriches cut flower arrangements.

I

INDIAN CRESS – Tropaeolum Majus

History

Spanish conquerors discovered it during the Sixteenth century in their native Peru. Their Latin term derives from the Greek word “Tropaion” (trophy).

Positive qualities

These plants contain a remarkably high level of vitamin C. Due to its antiseptic and diuretic effect, it is recommended for bladder diseases. The tea brew is also effective against chest infections.

Use

Its blossom and young seeds taste spicy to hot, and are ideal for seasoning salads. Yet, less is more, as a large dose can lead to stomach and intestine discomfort.
Chop the leaves and sprinkle over soft cheese or scrambled egg, to give the dish a subtle pepper taste.

J

JIAOGULAN – Gynostemma Pentaphyllum

History

This “herb of the immortal” provides energy and vigour, without the use of caffeine. A revitalised feeling is noticeable after just a few fresh leaves.

Positive qualities

Jiaogulan prevents stress-related illnesses and improves a healthy heartbeat and the circulation of the body in general. It is highly effective against chest infections, such as bronchitis.
A herbal brew of its leaves produce an invigorating, rejuvenating tea, that is drunk daily in southern China.

Use

The tea brewed from fresh leaves is tasty. The young leaf tips enrich salads with a pleasant, exotic note.

L

LAVENDER – Lavandula Officinalis

History

Lavender originates from the Mediterranean region, yet nowadays, the plant is found on all continents. It grows to 60cm high, and the blossom occurs in July and August.

Positive qualities

Lavender has a calming effect against hyperactivity, insomnia and upper abdominal pain. It is widely used in aromatherapy, thanks to its balancing and calming effect. It is also recommended for depressive moods, head aches, stress and exhaustion.

Use

A lavender bag in a wardrobe will ward off insects and gives off an attractive aroma. Superb for potpourri.

LAVENDER COTTON – Santolina Sp.

History

The botanic generic term derives from the Latin words “sanctus” (holy) and “linim” (linseed), due to the ancient name for one of the species from the Mediterranean (southern Europe and North Africa).

Positive qualities

The leaves made as tea relieves cramps, as well as stomach and digestion discomfort. If the tea is made from the delicate leaf tips, it can help against jaundice, liver problems, and bowel disease. When applied to wounds, it accelerates the healing process and the ground leaves are also said to soothe insect stings and bites.

Use

The Arabs used it for centuries for medicinal purposes. It is also well known as a mothproofing agent.

LEMON BALM – Melissa Officinalis

History

The lemony aroma that comes from the fresh leaves, gave the plant its “lemon balm” description. The “mild stress solvent” is a perennial plant that blooms in July and August.

Positive qualities

Lemon balm is has a calming effect, stimulates the appetite and promotes digestion.

Use

Lemon balm is a universal genius; a seasoning, medicinal and aromatic plant in one. It is refreshing with the subtle scent of lemon. It gives Gurtkaler alpine herb liqueur a “special something” taste.

LEMON GRASS – Cymbopogon Citratus

History

Lemon grass is native to southern India and Sri Lanka. Lemon grass favours warm weather, but can also survive in cooler temperatures.

Positive qualities

Lemon grass has anti-inflammatory properties. The herb is used to treat children with stomach or gastric discomfort.

Use

A first-class tea is produced from its dried leaves, and the fresh herb gives the south eastern Asian cuisine its typical aroma. Lemon grass is widely used to season meat and fish. It is furthermore found in the oils in soap, creams and perfumes. It works as a skin cleanser and bath supplement.

LEMON-THYME – Thymus x Citriodorus

History

Lemon thyme is a seasoning and healing herb from the thyme species, from the mint family. The aroma is spicy and reminiscent of lemon, hence its name. 
Thyme was once the symbol of death. People once believed that the souls of the dead withdrew to the blossom of the flowers.

Positive qualities

Similar to thyme, the citrus offspring is antibacterial, is anti-inflammatory and soothes coughs and asthma.

Use

Lemon-thyme is a popular seasoning condiment in recipes, thanks to its lemon flavour. The herb can also be used to refine jelly or homemade herbal honey.

LOVAGE – Levisticum Officinale

History

Lovage comes from ancient Persia. It arrived into Europe around the 14th century, and was initially planted in cloister gardens. Once the perennial plant has found its favourite spot, it will return year after year.

Positive qualities

Lovage has a cleansing effect, releases cramps and strengthens the lining of the stomach and stimulates the appetite.

Use

In the household, lovage is widely known as the “Maggikraut”, after the company that markets it as a condiment. The taste is reminiscent of celeriac, yet it is more bitter and spicy. Finely chopped leaves are ideal for seasoning soups, salads and casseroles.

M

MAJORAM – Origanum Maiorana

History

Marjoram is native to the eastern part of the Mediterranean. It was the sacred herb of the goddess Aphrodite during ancient Greece, and people spoke of its aphrodisiac effect. The herb has a strong, minty taste and blooms between July and August. Sunny and dry weather is recommended when picking its leaves.

Positive qualities

Marjoram stimulates the appetite, and it calms and aids fat loss. In natural medicine, marjoram is beneficial for trapped wind, to revive benevolent stomach acids and to calm the nerves. Marjoram also combats bacteria, and is useful against, for example, bronchitis.

Use

As a tea to soothe aching muscles, brewed with an equal share of daisies.

N

NANA MINT – Mentha spicata var. Crispa „marokko“

History

The Moroccan nana mint is once of the key ingredients for the national drink of Morocco. When the weather is mild, the leaves remain green all year round. As the nana mint is most abundant during the summer months, it is usually the best harvest time.

Positive qualities

Sweet, cooling taste with a refreshing effect. Its essential oil are often found in mouthwash and tooth hygiene products, due to its freshness.

Use

Alongside tea, the nana mint is used in the preparation of recipes, especially salad dressings. The nana mint is often tied in clumps to ward off insects.

O

OLIVE HERB – Santolina Viridis

History

The olive herb looks remarkably similar to rosemary. It is a plant, that is recognisable by its long blooming yellow blossom.

Positive Eigenschaften

It stimulates the appetite, aids digestion and prevents bloating.

Use

The plant is widely used in the Mediterranean cuisine. Although the plant does not produce any olives, the leaves display a pronounced olive aroma and taste. This confirms its popular use as an ingredient in salad dressings and southern European dishes. The olive herb is an ideal component for the production of aromatic oils, and generally speaking, the olive herb is regarded as a worthy substitute for green olives.

OREGANO – Origanum Vulgare

History

The dried, cut oregano, that is a common seasoning herb in every household, is a mixture of several different species. Oregano is generally exceptionally aromatic and has been cultivated for a long period of time.

Positive qualities

Brew the leaves and blossom of the plant into a tea against coughing, hypothermia and flu symptoms. The tea is also beneficial for the treatment of bronchitis, asthma and arthritis. Oregano tea soothes a hoarse voice, calms and helps against headaches and mild nausea.

Use

The herb is often used to season recipes, such as chilli, uncooked vegetables and salads. It is also a highly popular herb spread over pizzas.

P

PEPPERMINT – mentha x piperita

History

Peppermint was originally used by the ancient Egyptians, the Greek gods and ancient Romans. It is a universal herb and was once regarded as a symbol of fortune.

Positive qualities

Peppermint is refreshing and cooling, and settles the stomach and soothes headaches. It also has the effect of being stimulating, calming, disinfecting, anti-inflammatory, anticonvulsive and aids digestion.

Use

The most common use is the brew of peppermint tea. Peppermint oil can soothe aching muscles, if applied directly onto the skin. At the same time, peppermint wards off ants, flea beetles and cabbage white butterflies.

R

ROSEMARY – Rosmarinus Officinalis

History

In ancient times, rosemary was regarded as a symbol for love and loyalty, and was to keep evil spirits at bay. Rosemary has an intense, spicy aroma and tastes slightly bitter.

Positive qualities

The herb, that makes you strong.
Rosemary stimulates blood circulation, and helps from headaches caused by poor circulation, exhaustion and mild stomach and gastric discomfort. Its main feature is that it lowers blood pressure and aids the recuperation of the body following illness. It also stimulates the appetite.

Use

Fresh or dried leaves to season fish dishes, particularly lamb.
Fresh leaves, in small doses for herbed butter and salads.
With grilling meats, add burnt sprigs to the meat to enrich its aromatic flavour.

S

SAGE – Salvia Officinalis

History

One of the most popular herbs used in cooking.
Sage is both a versatile herb, and bees are drawn to it by its blossom.

Positive qualities

Sage was used by the ancient Egyptians as a healing plant. Sage tea and throat sweets work a wonder against coughs and a sore throat. Sage is an antiperspirant and helps against indigestion. Stress can also become manageable, thanks to sage.

Use

Sage is a universal soloist in the kitchen. It gives a wide selection of dishes a distinctive note, and due to its pronounced aroma profile, it is rarely mixed with other herbs. Pork and duck meat are often seasoned with sage. It also pairs outstandingly well with cheese and pasta.

SPANISH MINT – Mentha Cordifolia

History

A highly popular mint in Spain, Portugal and Morocco.
It is particularly hardy and a strong plant with a strong menthol aroma and a distinctive minty tang. It grows virtually everywhere, yet its growth is notably slower in shady spots.

Positive qualities

The Spanish mint has an invigorating and stimulating effect. Its essential oils are favoured in the production of mouthwash and tooth care products, thanks to its pleasantly fresh taste. It is refreshing on hot summer days for both body and mind.

Use

As a tea during meals to prevent indigestion or to garnish desserts.

SPEARMINT – Mentha Spicata var. Crispa

History

Also known as the curled-leaf mint, spearmint is a healing plant from the mint family. The plants grow to 60cm high and have a violet-coloured blossom. Spearmint is very similar to peppermint, however the main difference between them, is the content of menthol in peppermint, which is not present in spearmint.

Positive qualities

Spearmint teas helps with indigestion, and soothes stomach and bowel discomfort. It is said that spearmint has a highly beneficial effect on the liver.

Use

Spearmint is used in the treatment of indigestion and trapped wind. It is an aroma component in tea and mouthwash.

STRAWBERRY MINT – Mentha suaveolens “Strawberry”

History

Strawberry mint is one of the few non-prolific varieties and has a magnificent strawberry scent. It has a particularly intense, strawberry and mint aroma is distinctive during the early summer months. The typical minty aroma is predominant by just brushing against the leaves. The strawberry aroma is distinctive when the leaves are ripped and cut.

Positive qualities

Sweet, cooling and highly refreshing taste.

Use

An attractive mint aroma for tea and desserts, and the strawberry mint pairs particularly well with fruity cheesecakes. It might be hard to believe, but the combination of mint and strawberry pairs harmoniously with leek and pepper.

SUMMER SAVORY – Satureja Hortensis

History

Summer savory is native to the eastern region of the Mediterranean and has a slightly spicy taste.

Positive qualities

The herb aids stomach and intestine discomfort, to repress cramps, relieve bloating and is good against diarrhoea. Summer savory relieves coughs and respiratory mucous congestion. It has an antiseptic effect for coughing and throat infections, and aids healing. Freshly pressed savory leaves are a tried and tested remedy against bee and wasp stings.

Use

It tastes full-flavoured and spicy to peppery, and pairs well with all dishes prepared with green and yellow beans. Also a good seasoning for soups and lamb recipes.

T

TARRAGON – Artemisia Dracunculus

History

Its Latin name “dracunculus” means “little dragon”, as it was long thought that the herb soothed snake bites. Tarragon blooms between July and September.

Positive qualities

During the Middle Ages, tarragon was used against the pest and scurvy.
Natural medicine today acknowledges the beneficial effect of the herb to stimulate the appetite and aid the metabolism. Tarragon leaves are recommended in the treatment of sclerosis and vessel damage.

Use

The aromatic herb has a highly distinctive taste and is in constant use in refined French cuisine. The leaves also enhance chicken dishes, scrambled eggs, soups, stuffing and fish sauces.

THYME – Thymus Vulgaris

History

Thyme grows in a bush form, close to the ground. Its aroma is magnificently fragrant. The ancient Greeks named it “thymos”, which literally means “courage”.

Positive qualities

Thyme has a strong antibacterial effect and stimulates the immune system. It can be used to disinfect, particularly when inhaled for coughs and sneezes and skin conditions.

Use

It is popular to find a sprig of thyme when cooking, especially when seasoning meat, fish and soups. The Greeks used it as a massage balm, and the Romans infused its flavour to produce liqueurs.

V

VALERIAN – Valeriana Officinalis

History

The name valerian derives from the Latin word “Valeriana”, which means “be healthy”. Valerian is a perennial plant that blooms between June and August.

Positive qualities

Long used in ancient Greece, valerian was given to sick women due to its calming properties. Valerian tea and tincture help against anxiety, tension after physical discomfort, insomnia and even stage fright.

Use

It is no surprise, that the attractive aromas and delicate appearance of valerian can have a calming effect the body and mind. Incidentally, valerian also attracts cats and earthworms.

VIETNAMESE CORIANDER – Persicaria Odoratum

History

Vietnamese coriander is native to Indonesia, where is it cultivated in humid conditions. The plant has the a aroma of coriander with a citrus note.

Positive qualities

A journey to Asia with its typical, spicy taste.

Use

Also known as “beginner’s” coriander, because the intensity of its aroma is not as pronounced as real coriander. It tastes great in tomato sauces, stewed baby carrots and salad.
It is one of the many herbs, that give the Vietnamese cuisine its special character. Beyond Vietnam, it is also used to season dishes in Malaysia, and is favoured in for dishes made in Singapore.

W

WHITE-LEAVED SAVORY – Micromeria Fruticosa

History

Also known as wild thyme. 
minty, moderate dosis, highly aromatic!

Positive qualities

The white savory has an antimicrobial effect, is is good for bronchitis and aids the release of phlegm for chesty coughs. Made as a tea, it has a minty taste that is effective against fatigue. The pungent aroma, and the oregano and minty taste stimulate the appetite and meals are digested more effectively.

Use

The white-leaved savory is used to season lamb dishes in Arabic and Jewish countries, as well as in the preparation of warm and cold beverages.

WILD GARLIC – Allium Ursinum

History

Wild garlic is found in large quantities and grows over a wide area. Caution must be taken, however, as plants with similar leaves that do not smell of garlic can be poisonous, (such as lily of the valley and autumn crocus).

Positive qualities

Wild garlic is good for intestine cramps, stimulates the appetite and can lower cholesterol levels. It also contains lots of vitamin C and healthy essential oils. Wild garlic also reduces blood pressure and supports the functions of the liver and gall bladder. It supports the regulation of fat metabolism and helps to prevent arteriosclerosis.

Use

The leaves are make to make soup and sauce recipes. The stems can also be used to prepare dips, herbed butter and pesto.

WINTER TARRAGON – Tagetes Lucida

History

The winter tarragon was regarded as a sacred, healing herb by Indians, and its scent and smoke was used during healing ceremonies.
The pleasant aniseed fragrance and rich, intense aromas of woodruff and aniseed was used as long ago as the Aztecs.

Positive qualities

The herb is drunk as a tea, to soothe the stomach and to relax. 
It was once a treatment for snake bites and malaria.
When added to bathwater, it can be beneficial for sufferers of rheumatism.

Use

By comparison, true tarragon tastes more robust, and is therefore more effective with heavily seasoned recipes. Winter tarragon is an ideal seasoning for poultry, herbed butter, vinegar, tea and smoked foods.

Gurktaler verdankt seinen milden Geschmack der Zugabe von frischen Kräutern aus dem Gurktal.

The mild taste of Gurktaler is thanks to the use of fresh herbs, foraged from Gurktal Alpine mountains around the Gurk river valley.

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