What is Herbes de Provence?
Herbes de Provence is an aromatic blend of dried Provençal herbs and spices. Traditionally it includes thyme, rosemary, tarragon, savory, marjoram, oregano, basil, bay leaf and other fines herbs like chervil and parsley.
In the 70's, Julia Child was a big reason it became popular in North America. Soon after that, lavender started being added, likely due to tourists and the popularity of the famous Provence lavender. Lavender definitely is iconic to the area and the smell is heavenly. Some other newer additions include mint, fennel seed, cloves, sage and orange zest.
An Easy To Customize Herb Blend
Like many cultural spice mixtures, you will find distinct versions that vary from one village to another and even from kitchen to kitchen within the towns. I point this out to encourage you to adjust your blend to your personal taste. I love the floral aroma of lavender but some may find it too strong and be reminded of soap or perfume. If you choose to include it in your homemade herbes de Provence, use it sparingly—lavender can easily overwhelm your blend but used sparingly, it will enhance it beautifully.
(If you love lavender, check out my post 3 Easy Ways to Preserve your Lavender here or the Best 20 Recipes Using Lavender here and if you simply want to buy some lovely lotion, try my friend Susan's delicious rich beeswax lavender lotion bars here!)
Use Herbs To Reduce Salt and Fat
Using herbs in cooking is the best way to amp up flavour without the need for excessive salt or fat. Making your own spice blends is a great way to control what you eat and if you're growing your own herbs, these are soooo much less expensive. Many store bought spice blends include additives, sugar, sodium, gluten or even MSG and a small bottle can cost $5-$10 or even more if organic. I love that this recipe is totally clean and made to my preference.
I've included an easy how to on drying your own herbs down below. If you are growing herbs in your garden, I encourage you to dry some for use in the winter and of course for this recipe too.
Homemade Herbes de Provence
- 2 tbsp Dried Oregano
- 2 tbsp Dried Thyme
- 2 tbsp Dried Savory
- 2 tbsp Dried Tarragon
- 2 tbsp Dried Basil
- 2 tbsp Dried Marjoram
- 2 tbsp Dried Parsley and/or Chervil
- 1 tbsp Dried Anise Seed
- 1 tbsp Dried Lavender
- Combine all ingredients, gently mix and store in an airtight container.
- Make this to your taste, if you want you can omit any one or two of these ingredients and still have a stellar herb seasoning. Try adding in a favourite flavour like dry orange zest, rosemary or sage. Sprinkle over dishes before cooking or blend with a little olive oil and rub all over roasts or fish fillets before cooking. Bon Appetit!
How To Dry Herbs
To Oven-Dry: Place herb leaves or seeds in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Dry in oven set to lowest heat setting, leaving oven open if required to keep heat below 180' F, 2-4 hours. You'll know when herbs are dry enough when they crumble easily.
To Hang-Dry: Tie stems in bundles and hang the herbs upside down. A warm, dry spot is best, usually not your kitchen. Drying some herbs works great but herbs with a high water content can rot or become moldy before they dry out. So for these herbs—including basil, chives, mint, dill, and cilantro using a dehydrator is best. If you are just going to use them on their own, freezing can make a better option.
Properly dried and stored herbs can last 1 to 3 years but will taste freshest and at their best the first year.