Growing and Selling Fresh-Cut Herbs
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Cultivation: Prefers full sun and fertile, well drained, alkaline soil. Sow thickly in rows 9 inches apart in spring for main crop and throughout the summer for young salad leaves. Use 15-22 kg seed per hectare. Thin to 4 inches apart; difficult to transplant. Pick young leaves as needed. Cut whole plant in autumn. The legumes are harvested before the full ripening off the seeds, which contain the alkaloid trigonellin and traces of ethereal oils. Extracts from the seeds have a typically sweet, spicy taste and are used in the US for flavoring syrups and sauces; they also season pipe tobaccos. Dry leaves and seed. Grows to 1-2 feet in height. Annual. Much branched stem. The flowers, in the leaf axils, are ½ - 1 in sessile, with a papilionate yellow-violet corolla. The fruit is a berry about 4 in which contains ten large, rough, light brown seeds, rhomboidal in shape. They are very coriaceous, but since they contain a high quantity of pectin they swell up in water.
Culinary Uses: Taste is somewhat sweet but bitter—it has been
compared to burnt sugar—and not very delicious in raw form, developing a
nice aroma only when cooked. They should always be lightly roasted before
use and grinding or pounding with a mortar and pestle. Overheating turns
the seed red and bitter. A heavy iron skillet is ideal for dry-roasting
the seeds. Hard to grind, fenugreek seeds are best pounded in a mortar
after dry-roasting. It is found as an ingredient in various ready-made
curry powders, and in American chutneys, spice mixtures and halva, the
sesame-based sweetmeat found in India, Greece and other countries of the
Middle East. The Swiss use a related species, Trigonella coerulea,
as a cheese spice. Helba, a dish of northern Yemen, is made from
boiled seeds, served as a purée with a garnish of fried onion and meat.
Potatoes with Fenugreek
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