Make Your Own Bouquet Garni

The term bouquet garni comes from the French, meaning garnished bouquet, and was made up of sprigs of tied, fresh herbs that were used to season the stew or soup pot. Before serving, the bound herbs were removed and discarded.

Bouquet garni has changed over the years, but there is agreement that the original term probably referred to a combination of parsley, thyme, and bay leaf in a ratio (according to the Encyclopedia Britannica) of one sprig of parsley to one sprig of thyme and one bay leaf.

A Modern Twist on the Traditional Bouquet Garni

Modern versions incorporate other types of herbs into the mix: rosemary, basil, tarragon, fennel, garlic, orange peel, peppercorns, chervil, marjoram, celery seed, and savory are now accepted ingredients in bouquet garni, as are root vegetables like celery and carrot which were usually the province of mirepoix. (A vegetable flavoring agent made up of onions, carrots, and celery.) Parsley, thyme, and bay leaf are generally still present regardless of what other additions are made.

How to Make Bouquet Garni

In the dried version of bouquet garni, herb leaves are placed in coarse cloth (cheesecloth) and tied with string to create an herb packet that can be easily coaxed into a ladle and discarded at serving time.

When making fresh bouquet garni, use twine and tie it tight.

To make your own dried bouquet garni blend, try the combination below. Remember to place the mixture in a tightly sealed container and store it in a cool, dark spot. It should be viable for six months or more.

Bouquet Garni Recipe (Traditional)

½ cup dried parsley
¼ cup dried thyme
¼ cup dried bay leaf

The three ingredients above will give you the traditional blend. For a bit of variety, add one or more of the following to your cloth seasoning packet before tying it in place:

1 tsp tarragon
1 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp garlic powder (or one crushed garlic clove)
1 teaspoon crushed peppercorns
1 tsp rosemary

Add a bit of the tradition to your next stew or sauce with bouquet garni. Preparing the basic recipe ahead of time will make the process easy, and having some cheesecloth (available at your grocery store) on hand will make putting the little herb bundle together a breeze.

Using herbs to enrich the flavor of your meat sauce or stock with slow cooked goodness makes sense; let the herbs do the work, and if they are growing in your garden, so much the better.

Converting Herb Quantities From Fresh-to-Dried or Dried-to-Fresh

You can use herbs in combinations of fresh and dried. To help understand the proportions better, just remember that you will need three times the amount of fresh that you would for the same quantity dried. For example: One teaspoon of dried marjoram equals one tablespoon (three teaspoons) of fresh marjoram. This is a good rule for all of your herb computations and conversions.

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