Herbes de Provence

herbes de provence

Herbes de Provence is a common herb mix that you will see in grocery stores and on French menus. However, it’s important to understand what it is and how to work with it. You can find the dried blend of herbs in the southeast of France where it originates or you can blend it on your own.

What is Herbes de Provence?

If you want to take a little piece of Provence home with you, herbes de Provence is a good item to start with. Locals used to pick the different herbs in the wild or from their garden. They would dry the herbs themselves. Because of environmental preservation rules, it is not allowed anymore in a lot of places to pick them in the wild. In the 1960s Ducros, a French spice company began growing and packaging it commercially. It became quickly a mix that was highly sought after.

One of the things that’s unique about the mixture is that the herbs keep their strong aroma even in dry form. The traditional herbes de Provence composition consists of 26% rosemary, 26% thyme, 26% savory, 19% oregano, and, then, 3% basil. Depending on the region that it is mixed in, it may contain a few other herbs, including fennel, bay leaf, or sage. In the United States, it is common to see lavender added to the mix.

The herb mix is also a symbol of the sun and the blue sky of Provence. When you open the jar and close your eyes, it can make it feel like you’re in the French countryside.

How to use Herbes de Provence?

Herbes de Provence are usually dried to conserve them longer. To get all the aroma’s out it’s a good idea to add in the herbs mix before or during the cooking process instead of after. Chefs get creative with how the mix is used. It is used on grilled meat and fish as well as in sauces and soups. It can also be used to create a crust on various items to include steaks, oven-baked potatoes, and more.

Some cheese shops in France will also roll a semi-soft cheese, such as chèvre, into the herbs to create a unique flavor.

How is the mix different from other products?

The herbs mix from Provence is commonly confused with other products that are on the market. While it has a similar composition as Italian seasoning, it is different. Italian seasoning includes rosemary, oregano, thyme, and basil. The seasoning from Provence includes the use of savory. Depending on the version, it may also include sage, lavender, or fennel.

Additionally, there is a product that is known as Fines Herbes. This is not a suitable substitution because the primary herbs are parsley, chives, chervil, and tarragon, none of which are part of herbes de Provence.

Exploring the Herb Mix

You can learn more about the herb mix by watching this video. It gives you a little history about how the spice mix was made and how Julia Child was the one who helped to popularize it with chefs around the world. You can learn some of the different ways to incorporate it into foods, too, such as in grilled items and soups. Adding the herb mix to make a seared steak is also a great idea.

You can choose to use the herbs from Provence in all sorts of exciting ways. It’s a staple when you’re cooking French cuisine, though you can use it however you see fit.

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