Tuesday, September 12, 2017

6 Unique Ways to Preserve an Herb Harvest

There are many ways to preserve the herbs from your harvest.  Here are a few quick and easy ones to get you started.

Freeze leaves in water

Quick and easy, you just grab an ice tray fill the square halfway with water and add the herb leaves.  You can leave the leaf whole or chopped them fine.  Pop them into the freezer.  Once the cubes are frozen fill the tray the rest of the way with water and freeze again.  This two-step method makes sure the leaves stay covered by the water and ice so they keep their green color.

Once finally frozen you can pop put the cubes and place them in a zip lock bag for long term storage.  This will give you herbs for casseroles, soups, stews and long cook dishes all winter.  Discard the cubes once the spring harvesting begins.

Make a Bouquet Garni Bundle 

Bouquet garni is a bundle of herbs (thyme, bay, parsley, rosemary, savory) used in long cook soups and stews.  It is great in the crock pot where you can hang the bundle from the side and let the flavor infuse the dish, then remove the bundle when cooking is over.  You do not have to worry about leaves in the dish or picking out bay leaf.

You can use a bouquet garni fresh, or you can make fresh bundles and hang them to dry.  Once dry, you can wrap a cello bag around them and give them as a gift along with a soup recipe, or save their wonderful goodness all for yourself.

I have previously posted recipes to use with bouquet garni too!

Dry in a paper bag

Savory, Thyme and rosemary are all great candidates for bag drying.  The leaves have a small size and very little moisture, so you toss the cut stems in a bag, hang it on the wall and let the herbs dry.  Sometimes depending on humidity, I will give the bags a shake every few days. No other special treatment is needed and the herbs will be try enough to be stripped from the stems for storage in about a week.

Honey or Vinegar Infusion

Make an infusion of herbs transferring the flavor into another medium.  You can create a vinegar or honey.  See these posts for detailed instructions.

How Tuesday on making vinegar

Recipes using Herbed Vinegar

Make a compound butter
A compound butter is any plain unsalted butter to which you add herbs. You can create a single herb flavor or blend the herbs tighter to create a variety of flavors.  The general rule is 1/8 to 1/4 cup herbs into 1 stick unsalted butter.

Here is one of my favorite versions:
1 tsp parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp thyme leaves
1 tsp chopped chives or garlic chives
1 tsp tarragon

Blend the herbs into 1 stick of room temperature unsalted butter with a fork to get the herbs evenly distributed.  Then roll the soft butter into a sausage in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to eat in a week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.  You can use the butter on fresh steamed vegetables, steaks, baked or roasted potatoes, rice, egg noodles are on your morning toast of muffins.

I have more recipes for making compound butter (also called Herb Butter) all over the blog, but here is one of my first. 

Make a salt

There are several ways to make herb salt.  My two favorites are just to layer the whole herb leaf in salt and allow the salt to absorb the flavor from the leaf then later remove the leaf and you have white salt infused with flavor.  Another way is to run the salt and herbs in a coffee grinder.  I start with a larger salt so that I get a fine salt with fine flakes of herbs in it. 

You can also make an herb salt with chopped fresh leaves that you stir into salt, then spread on a baking sheet and allow to dry in the open air for 2 to 3 days to a week depending on humidity.  This is a great way to infuse the salt with a mixture of herbs, like a blend of chives, thyme, parsley and sage.  You use about 1 teaspoon of chopped fresh herbs to ¼ cup of salt (I like kosher.)  Once the herbs and salt have dried, you can place the mixture in a jar where it will keep its herbal taste for at least a year.

We will be posting more ways to make herbed salt and flavored sugar later this fall.

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