The Herb Companion is described as an essential guide to using herbs for your health and well-being … with a couple of recipes thrown in. A cookery book this isn’t.
However, amongst the wealth of superlative information contained within it from alfalfa to yucca, most herbs have helpful culinary uses listed. What is really noteworthy about this book are the charming original hand-painted illustrations, and the introduction providing advice on growing and harvesting herbs, how to make remedies from them, and medicinal uses. For those who enjoy cooking with these aromatic plants, there’s useful information on flavour combinations too.
The companion features over 90 herbs. Parsley, basil, Echinacea, borage, dill, sage, peppermint – just the sort of inclusions you’d expect. And then the more obscure (to the uninitiated anyway): mullein, kava kava, Devil’s Claw, Black Cohosh, Southernwood, Sweet Flag.
For the cooks, culinary uses are included for herbs like fenugreek, thyme, rosemary, sweet majoram, lemon balm, fennel, ginger, garlic … Hold on, ginger and garlic are herbs? According to editor Alison Candlin, an experienced author and cook, they are sufficiently so to be included. Fruits elderberries, bilberries, cranberries and even papaya also make these pages.
Herbs are listed in alphabetical order of their Latin names so Yarrow is the first entry by virtue of the fact the Latin is Achillea millefolium. I found this a little difficult to find things at first, but flicking back to a list in the introduction helps.
There’s no arguing that there’s a wealth of information in this book, including a section on using herbal remedies with children, pregnant women and the elderly as well as for the menopause, stress and emotional problems.
Despite the absence of recipes, The Herb Companion would still be a nice-to-have, not to mention useful, reference addition to your cookery bookshelf.
Buy now at Amazon