"Fresh" Herbs and Spices Squeezed from a Tube-- They're Handy, But Do They Taste Dandy?

Herb TubesInitially, you're probably wondering, "How do they get the fresh herbs and spices into a tube?"  According to a company representative, the products are washed, chopped, and mixed with other ingredients to form a paste.  Then the tube gets filled with the mixture from the top, and it's crimped closed. 


Perhaps your next question is "Why package herbs in a tube?" Here are a few answers to this one: getting herbs from a tube is, in the long run, a money-saver.  It's also less time-consuming and more convenient than purchasing fresh ones.  Furthermore, many users say, herbs from a tube are tastier than dried ones.  Gourmet Garden is marketing these innovative products. Recently, the Chicago Tribune was inspired to run a piece about the company's entire line after one of the newspaper's "Good Eating" writers listed what she called lemon grass purée as an ingredient in a recipe. 


In the produce department of many supermarkets and other stores, you may find some (probably not all) of the Gourmet Garden's herbs and spices in a tube.  The line of 4 oz. tubes includes the following: basil, chili pepper cilantro, dill, garlic and chunky garlic, ginger, Italian blends, lemon grass, oregano, and parsley. In 2.8 oz. tubes, you can find these blends: Mediterranean, Mexican, Moroccan, Thai, steak, and poultry.


The cost per 4 oz. tube is $3.99, far cheaper than buying a fresh herb every time a recipe calls for it. You'll get 20 teaspoons of a product that, if properly treated, will last for months.  Of course, an herb in a tube is also more convenient.  It's already in your kitchen; you don't have to find it in the store.  Moreover, it doesn't need to be washed or chopped, just squeezed and stirred.  That's a big advantage compared to doing battle with a lemon grass stalk or a chunk of ginger. 


Now, here's the big question:  How do these products taste?  Can they compete with fresh-from-the-garden herbs? Chicago Tribune tasters tried the parsley, dill, and ginger. "Each delivered the true flavor of the herb.  We found them a bit muted--you won't get that just-chopped flavor and aroma--but flavorful enough to use in sauces, soups, braises, etc."  After all, who eats an herb all by itself?


If you buy one of these products, checkout the lengthy, informative FAQs on the Gourmet Garden website. These provide information on shelf life and many other matters.  Here's what we learned from the FAQs:


-Refrigeration is essential.  Don't leave a tube out on the counter for more than half an hour.


-If properly refrigerated, the tube will remain good for three months.  The "Best Before" date on the cap refers to the refrigerated product.  Opening the product doesn't affect its shelf life.


-Many of Gourmet Garden's products can be used directly from the freezer.  If the frozen tube is not an easy squeeze, it will be after 5 minutes on the counter.  You can put the tube back in the freezer after use.  If stored in the freezer, the tube will remain good for 6 months.


Gourmet Garden herbs and spices are grown organically in Australia. The products are produced by an Australian company and  have been sold there since 1999. They've been sold in the U.S. since 2003 and have evolved and improved over the years, so don't be dissuaded from trying them by any negative online comments posted several years ago.  Nowadays, the best sellers are basil, garlic, cilantro, and ginger. The entire line is certified organic by the Organic Food Chain (OFC), which is the USDA certifier in Australia, as having a "Made with Organic herbs/spices" status. They are also gluten-free.


We asked Margaret Laport, Gourmet Garden North American Marketing Director, if there are any safety issues with these products.  She pointed out that herbs have natural anti-microbial properties and that the low water level helps to ward off contamination.  Also, the added sea salt is a natural preservative.


Want to try a tube?  The store locator on the Gourmet Garden Website will help you find where it's sold in your area. 


Below is a link to a video about Gourmet Garden's seasonings in a tube, from farm to plate.



Want to learn more about herbs and spices in general?  Here's the link to the herbs and spices section on Shelf Life Advice.




Gourmet Garden home page: http://www.gourmetgarden.com/us/


Margaret Laport, Gourmet Garden North American Marketing Director


Chicago Tribune “Good Eating" section, Fridge Notes, "Fresh herbs at the ready, "March 21, 2012







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