Herbes de Provence: Flavors of the French Countryside

Origin of Herbes de Provence

Herbes de Provence (or “Herbs of Provence”) is a mixture consisting of common herbs native to the Provence region in southeast France.

As French cuisine gained popularity in the U.S. and abroad during the 1970’s, commercial herb blends bearing the name “Herbes de Provence” began to become available. However, these mixtures typically come from North Africa, China, and Central and eastern Europe—not from France.

Herbes de Provence Flavor Profile

Commercial Herbes de Provence mixtures vary somewhat widely from one manufacturer to another, so flavor profiles can be very different from one of these mixes to the next.

The most basic blends typically contain rosemary, savory, marjoram and thyme. In the U.S., lavender buds are a popular component for Herbes de Provence mixtures. The following herbs can also be present in a blend:

  • Sage
  • Basil
  • Tarragon
  • Bay leaf
  • Dill
  • Chervil
  • Oregano
  • Fennel

In the U.S., lavender buds are a popular ingredient for these mixes, lending a distinct flavor. It’s a little bit floral, but mostly has an earthy and herbaceous taste with a very faint undertone of mint. When combined with complementary herbs such as those found in Herbes de Provence blends, it can give the right dish that little something extra that makes it particularly special.

Health Benefits of Herbes de Provence

Herbes de Provence blends vary significantly in terms of the specific herbs they contain, so each individual mixture will come with its own set of health benefits.

Lavender buds add unique benefits that most other herbs do not, offering a bit of aromatherapy. When a mix containing lavender is used in an evening meal, it can help you to relax and unwind after a long, stressful day simply by its scent alone.

In addition, lavender contains natural muscle relaxers, so after your meal is complete, you’ll feel even more relaxed! It’s also important to keep this factor in mind so as to avoid having a lunchtime meal that contains lavender, as you’re not going to get an energy boost from this particular addition.

No matter which herbs are included in any specific Herbes de Provence blend you happen to be using, chances are good that there will be a wealth of incredibly healthy vitamins and nutrients that will boost your immune system, help you to keep your bones healthy and strong, aid in the absorption and digestion of other foods and generally help your body work its best.

Common Uses of Herbes de Provence

You might assume from the name that Herbes de Provence blends are commonly used in French cuisine, but that’s not the case. While the herbs that make up these mixtures are used in traditional French cooking, they would not be used in a blend but added individually.

Most commonly, Herbes de Provence is used to add the flavor of the French countryside with ease and simplicity instead of using individual herbs. The most common types of foods in which Herbes de Provence is used include grilled meats and vegetables, roasted chicken, baked fish as well as in soups, gravies and stews.

Combining one of these lovely herb blends with a top-grade olive oil makes a lovely dipping sauce for fresh bread, and it will always complement your meal well when your entrée also contains Herbes de Provence.

To take true advantage of the flavor that an Herbes de Provence blend can add to your dishes, you can easily make your own mixture using whichever herbs you personally prefer. Not only will this allow you to fine-tune the flavor; it will also add a signature taste that is yours and yours alone!