Q. What’s the difference between an herb and a spice?
A. Horticulturists use “herb” when talking about plants with leaves used for flavoring, medicine or fragrance. When the seeds, berries, bark or roots of plants are used for flavoring, those plants are usually referred to as “spices.”
For example, the leaves of dill are used for flavoring food, making it a culinary herb. In addition, dill is referred to as a spice because the seeds of dill are also used for flavoring food. Many spices come from plants grown in regions with tropical climates. India produces about 86 percent of the world’s spice supply.
Q. How do I prevent mold growth on hard cheese? Will wrapping my cheese in vinegar-soaked cheese cloth prevent mold growth?
A. The best way is to store it tightly sealed, in its original wrapping, in the refrigerator between 35 and 40 degrees. Once cheese is exposed to air, molding and dehydration can occur.
Avoid touching the cheese with your hands. Hands introduce mold spores on the cheese. Handle it through the wrapping or some other barrier. Also, make sure the surface and utensils you use to cut the cheese are clean.
Wrapping cheese in vinegar-soaked cheese cloth to prevent mold growth changes the flavor and texture of the cheese, as well as exposing the cheese to mold spores.
Q. My kids are considering taking lambs to the fair this year. When should we be thinking about purchasing the lambs?
A. For the local fairs, the Benton-Franklin County Fair has their spring lamb weigh-in around May 20. The Columbia Basin Junior Livestock Show in Connell weighs the lambs in around June 20. You should contact the respective shows for exact dates and entry requirements. If the exhibitors select a feeder lamb that weighs about 65 pounds at the fair’s spring weigh-in and gains approximately 0.7 pounds per day for 100 days, they should be able to achieve a finished weight of about 135 to 140 pounds by fair time.
Q. If I plant some rhubarb this spring, can I harvest it this year?
A. Rhubarb should not be harvested during the first year of planting. In the second season, the rhubarb can be harvested for 1 to 2 weeks.
-- Questions should be called in to the WSU Extension offices in Kennewick at 735-3551 or Pasco at 547-3511.