Study edible herbs:
  • Learn to cook with herbs
  • Learn to identify edible herbs
  • Learn how to process and preserve edible herbs
 Learn how to identify and successfully grow dozens of common and uncommon edible herbs. Develop your skills and experience the delights of cooking adventurous new recipes with herbs. Learn drying and other methods of preserving the flavour (eg. herb oils, salts, vinegars).
Eight lessons as follows cover common and less common herbs used for cooking.


Explode Your Taste Options by Using Herbs in Cooking

  • Learn to identify, grow and  propagate lots of different culinary herbs
  • Get creative with cooking -learn to use herbs in food preparation
  • Indulge a passion, start a business or find a job with herbs

Who should do this course?

  • Herb nursery staff
  • Market gardeners wanting to diversify into cut herbs
  • Cooks and chefs
  • Manufacturers of foods, food additives or dried herbs

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

What are Culinary Herbs?

The fresh and dried leaves, flowers and sometimes stems of culinary herbs are the parts used in cooking. These come from plants such as mint, sage, tarragon, chives, parsley and a multitude of other species.

Sometimes people confuse culinary herbs with spices. Spices are usually powdered substances produced from the grinding of seeds, roots, bark, fruit and sometimes the flowers or flower parts i.e. saffron (actually the stamens of the flowers).

Culinary herbs do two common things in the kitchen:

1. They can be used to replace salt and sugar as food flavourings.  Which is a positively healthy move...salt and sugar are widely known to be consumed by most people in quantities which are detrimental to health.

2. They greatly expand the variety of tastes which can be experienced. They have been used since man's earliest times to add to the flavour of food. With the tremendous variety of herbs that are readily available now, today's cook will use them to provide interest in the form of colour and texture as well as flavour.

Course Content and Structure

There are eight lessons as outlined below:

1. Introduction

  • Review of the system of plant identification,
  • general characteristics of culinary herbs,
  • information contacts (i.e. nurseries, seed, clubs, etc.).

2. Culture

  • Planting
  • staking,
  • mulching,
  • watering,
  • pest & disease management
  • feeding,
  • pruning,
  • protection from wind, salt air, etc.

3.  Propagating and Establishing a Herb Garden

  • Propagation
  • Methods of propagating culinary herbs.
  • Creating a Kitchen Garden
  • Growing in pots, inside, or in the open ground.

4. Cooking with Herbs.

  • Culinary uses of herbs,
  • Herb teas
  • Recipes, Garnishes, etc.
  • Fresh and dried herb use.

5. The Most Commonly Grown Varieties.

  • Garlic
  • Parsley
  • Chives.

6. Other Important Culinary Herbs

  • The Lamiaceae family (Mint, Thyme, Rosemary, Lavender etc.) - one of the most aromatic herb families to use in flavouring foods.

7. Lesser Grown Varieties

  • How to cook with lesser known herbs.

8. Special Assignment

  • A detailed study into herbs selected by the student.


  • 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.

Herbal Treats for the Sweet Tooth

Herb Scented Sugar
2 cups sugar
One clean 500 ml jar with a tight fitting lid.
Choose sweet, aromatic flowers to flavour sugar such as lavender, scented geranium leaves and flowers, roses, lilac, and violets. You can use them singly or combine flavours – experimentation is the key! The flowers and leaves must be dry before combining with the sugar – if you can avoid washing them then that is best. 

a) Place ¼ of the sugar in the jar and scatter some of the herb flowers onto the top to cover. 
b) Repeat – in several layers finishing with some sugar and leaving a 1.5 cm space on top
c) Secure the lid, shake the jar and store in a cool, dark place. 
d) Leave the sugar for three-four weeks before use – the longer the more the flavours will combine with the sugar. 
e) Top up the jar with sugar (as you use it) and give it a good shake to combine. 

Mint, lemon verbena, lemon balm and other sweet herbs taste great as herbal sugars for use in tea. Use the herbal sugar when baking cakes and biscuits in place of plain sugar.
Herb Honey
Add sprigs of your favourite herbs to honey and mix thoroughly before storing. It is best to slightly warm the honey first - you can do this by leaving it in a warm position for a few hours.This should be let stand in a sealed jar for several weeks before using stored in a warm position (not in the fridge).

Herb Confectionery
Toffees, coconut ice and other home made confectioneries can be flavoured by placing a layer of chopped herbs on the bottom of the container into which the candy mixture is poured. 
Suitable herbs for use this way include; many of the mints and scented geraniums.

Peppermint Creams
225 grams of icing sugar;
1 beaten egg white;
½ tablespoon of chopped fresh mint;
6 drops of peppermint essence.

a) Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and gradually add the well beaten egg white- stir until you produce a stiff paste. 
b) Stir in the mint and the peppermint essence.
c) Knead the mixture using the tips of your fingers for a few minutes. 
d) Roll out the mix in between two pieces of grease proof paper or plastic film to 6 mm thickness (do this on a cold surface).
e) Remove the top sheet of paper or film and cut the dough with a pastry cutter into small 2.5 cm rounds. You can re-roll the off-cuts until you have used all the paste. (You should aim to make about 30 sweets).
f) Let the sweets dry for about 24 hours before serving. 

Herb Biscuits
Standard biscuit recipes can have interest added to them by the addition of herbs. It is important to choose herbs which are compatible with sweet flavours though!
Marjoram and savoury are not recommended for use in biscuits.
The following work well: spearmint, lime scented geranium, pineapple sage, peppermint geranium’ lavender etc.

Herb Biscuit Recipe
2 cups of all-purpose plain flour
1 table spoon 
3 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon dill or rosemary leaves, sage or thyme - crushed
½ cup butter or margarine
¾ cup milk

a) Heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius 
b) Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and dill weed in medium bowl.
c) Cut in shortening with pastry blender until mixture resembles fine crumbs or do it with your fingers but make sure that the mixture does not get too hot. 
d) Stir in milk until dough leaves side of bowl (dough should be soft and sticky).
e) Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead lightly 10 times. 
f) Roll to 1.25 cm thick. 
g) Cut into 5 cm rounds. 
h) Place on well greased biscuit tray leaving 2 cm between each. 
i) Bake 10 to 12 minutes.