This bundle of herbs provides a punch of flavor to your stews, soups, and stock.
Want to make sure your stocks, soups and stews are full of flavor? Consider adding a bouquet garni to the pot, as a kind gesture to whatever you're cooking. We think of it as an offering to the food deities in exchange for an aromatic, delicious meal. Even if you don’t necessarily know what a bouquet garni is, odds are you've used one to season your food. Here’s more info on this bundle of herbal goodness.
What Is a Bouquet Garni?
A bouquet garni is a bundle of herbs — the term is French for "garnished bouquet" — either tied together or wrapped in cheesecloth. Traditional French combinations use parsley, thyme, and bay leaves, but you can also find recipes that call for rosemary, Thai basil, or tarragon. If you opt to wrap the herbs in cheesecloth, you can also add cloves of garlic, pieces of ginger, or loose whole spices like black peppercorns, whole-seed cumin seeds, and coriander.
Why Use a Bouquet Garni?
Simply put, for flavor and ease. The herbs infuse their flavor into whatever you are cooking, and when you are ready to serve, the bundle is easily removed from the pot, without you having to struggle to dig them out.
How Do You Make a Bouquet Garni?
There are two types of bouquet garni: one with fresh herbs tied together with string, and one with loose herbs gathered together wrapped in cheesecloth. The herbs you choose to use will depend on what you are making; this Italian Ragù di Salsiccia calls for thyme, bay leaves, sage, and rosemary. This Spiced Beef Pho calls for cloves, star anise and fennel seeds; others suggest pieces of ginger, lemongrass, and spring onion. You might want to add epazote and culantro to a Mexican soup; feel free to mix it up according to your preferences.
A bouquet garni can be made with fresh or dried herbs. When using fresh herbs, tie a piece of kitchen twine or string around them for easy handling. If you are using dried herbs and whole spices or aromatics, stuff them in a cheesecloth satchel or wrap them in cheesecloth, then secure the bundle with kitchen twine to keep the ingredients from falling out.
How Do You Use a Bouquet Garni?
Once you've wrapped the herbs in their little bundle, simply drop the bouquet into the stew, soup, or roast you are cooking. The herbs will infuse the dish with flavors that will improve the flavor of whatever you are cooking. When it’s ready to serve, just remove and discard the bouquet garni.
Can You Make a Bouquet Garni in Advance?
Bouquet garni using fresh herbs are best made and used the same day. If you want to make one in advance, chef Richard Sandoval recommends wrapping it in a damp paper towel and storing it in the refrigerator so it doesn’t dry out.
If you prefer to make things in bulk, you can freeze a bouquet garni. Assemble a batch, then wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and freeze in well-sealed bags or containers to help prevent dehydration and freezer burn; they will hold up to 6 months.