The French dried herb mix, Herbes de Provence, was ubiquitous in my mother’s cooking when I grew up. She added it to the simple tomato sauce she made often, and always from scratch, or rubbed roasts with it. When I smell Herbes de Provence, I immediately think of our kitchen in Frankfurt, Germany, with its ornate grapeleaf wallpaper.
For years I have made my own Herbes de Provence mix from herbs from my garden. I have never followed a recipe. Prompted by a recent blog post by my friend Linda Ziedrich about lavender being added to Herbes de Provence sometimes, I looked at the authentic formula for Herbes de Provence.
I do love lavender but I have never added it to Herbes de Provence. I find that it is best used in jams, jellies and desserts.
The famous Label Rouge for Herbes de Provence includes only five herbs, and in precise amounts: summer savory (26%), rosemary (26%), thyme (19%), oregano (26%), and basil (3%). Because my scale only weighs in five-gram increments, I rounded off the amounts but got pretty close this time.
Drying Herbes de Provences is easy. The only thing that is time-consuming is stripping the leaves off the thyme sprigs and removing all of the sprigs, which get hard and spiky when dried. I am especially cautious about this because as a teenager I had once stuck one of those tiny spikes in the back of my throat and, after lots and lots of water did not help, had to go to an otolaryngologist to get it removed. The doc wondered what on earth my mother had fed me and he just gave me a puzzled look when I told him, Herbes de Provence.
We got a 2-month-old vizsla puppy a week ago, which means we spend extended periods of time in safe areas such as the kitchen or on the patio with him. While watching him explore the potted lavender and rosemary, and trying to teach him not to eat them, I had plenty of time to patiently strip the thyme leaves off the sprigs.
We both had a good time, and I got a tray of Herbes de Provence out of the afternoon.