Indeed, it’s a wonderful way to add warm, herbal flavors to your stews, soups, or sauces by immersing an herbal tea bag during simmering. Exactly that’s what bouquet garni does in French cooking.
This article brings home to you the best bouquet garni substitute to use, also a little about its uses, flavor profile, and composition.
What Is Bouquet Garni?
Literally, bouquet garni means “garnished bouquet”. As for a bouquet garni definition, ‘it’s a bundle of fresh herbs converted into an herbal tea bag and immersed into the simmering braises or sauces to infuse flavor.’
Once the flavor has dissipated, the packet of aromatics is removed from the dish.
Bouquet garni is a classic fresh herb blend used to flavor soups, stocks, casseroles, vegetables, and meat.
Simply adding several herbs to your dish adds bulk, changes texture and taste, also not appealing. They can also get soggy, discolor the dish, and keep floating over a liquid dish. But using bouquet garni is convenient and infuses only the flavor without changing the texture and presentation of the dish. As the herbs are bundled into a sachet, it’s easy to remove them from the dish after cooking.
Bouquet Garni Composition
The ingredients in traditional bouquet garni are bay leaf, thyme, and parsley. However, you’ll come across its other variants which may be composed of one are more additional ingredients such as basil, rosemary, chervil, tarragon, or peppercorns.
According to your preferences and availability of ingredients, you may use fresh or dried herbs in it.
Generally, cheesecloth is used to wrap the herbs into a sachet-like enclosure. If you’re using fresh herbs, then bundle them with a cooking twine for retrieval.
If any of the ingredients in bouquet garni isn’t available, use its closest substitute herb.
What Does Bouquet Garni Taste Like?
The flavor of bouquet garni would vary according to the ingredients used in the bundle. Its traditional blend infuses into the dish a sharp minty flavor of thyme and bay leaf and peppery taste of parsley.
Adding peppercorns or rosemary to this herbal bouquet can make your soups pungent and warm. Similarly, tarragon and chervil can infuse a pungent and licorice-like taste to your dish.
How Is Bouquet Garni Used In Cooking?
Bouquet garni is mostly used in dishes that simmer for a long time such as stocks, stews, soups, casseroles, and braises. It’s an important ingredient in traditional French recipes like sausage cassoulet and a daube de boeuf.
The bund of herbs is cooked with other ingredients but removed before serving the dish. Before discarding, the herbal juice remaining in the bouquet can be wrung out into the dish.
This type of bouquet is a convenient way to infuse herbal flavors into your dish without the trouble of cautiously fishing out the bits of herbs.
What Is A Good Bouquet Garni Substitute?
Here is a list of the best bouquet garni substitutes to use in your dish:
Homemade Bouquet Garni
Traditional bouquet garni is made of three basic ingredients; bay leaf, thyme, and parsley. In place of the ready-to-use sachet or pouch of bouquet garni that you buy from a grocery store, you can easily make it at home. Bundle the herbs and cover them with cheesecloth and tie it with a string. You may add or replace any herbs in it according to the demands of the recipe or the availability of the herbs.
Use one bay leaf, up to 5 parsley stems, and 1 spring of thyme to make the Garni herbal tea bag. Either bundle it in cheesecloth shaped into a pouch or use a coffee filter to immerse it in the dish while cooking. According to your choice of taste, you may use additional ingredients like tarragon, chervil, or peppercorns in the mix.
Herbes de Provence
In a pinch, herbes de Provence is a good substitute for bouquet garni. Thyme, oregano, and savory used in this herb blend are a close match for bouquet herbs. Note, there are several variants of herbes de Provence with diverse ingredients, but choose the blend that closely resembles bouquet garni. Bundle up herbes de Provence in cheesecloth and fasten it with a string and immerse it in the simmering dish.
Traditional fines herbes is a blend of fresh parsley, chives, chervil, and tarragon. It provides a flavor similar to bouquet garni as they both have similar ingredients. You’ll also find different variants of fines herbes with additional ingredients like thyme, tarragon, and marjoram. For substitution, choose the variant that is nearly the same as bouquet garni. Note, usually fresh herbs mixture like fines herbes is added to the dish towards the end of cooking to keep their flavors intact.
Ingredients-wise, Italian seasoning is a lot similar to herbes de Provence and bouquet garni. The additional ingredients in this herb mixture like rosemary, oregano, and basil work well in most dishes that call for bouquet garni. Thus Italian seasoning is a manageable replacement for bouquet garni in a pinch.
What Is the Difference Between Bouquet Garni and a Spice Sachet?
Spice sachets contain different combinations of measured spices and herbs enclosed in a tea bag or cheesecloth and secured with a string or staple shut. You get to buy spice sachets in different flavor profiles. On the other hand, bouquet garni is usually made of thyme, parsley, and bay leaf but available in sachet and tea bag forms like the spice sachet.
Can You Freeze Bouquet Garni?
Technically, you can freeze bouquet garni like any other herbs and spices but there isn’t a need for it. At normal room temperature, the dried herbs used in bouquet garni will stay intact for a year or more if stored in an airtight container. Freezing is very useful for fresh herbs but not so much for dried herbs.