Wednesday, April 14, 2010

More Tips on Herbs

I've shared a few tips about herbs before....especially about keeping fresh ones fresh longer and drying your fresh herbs.

And now that I have a lovely new book The Cook's Herb Garden and want to share a few things I found really interesting, not to mention the fantastic recipes like the rub I used to make Roasted Lamb with Oregano, Citrus & Rosemary Rub.

Probably the most frustrating part about buying fresh herbs is that they should be used quickly or will lose their wonderful fragrance...the reason we use them in the first place. I'm sure I'm not alone in needing a scant tablespoon or two of dill only to find a bunch that would keep a restaurant kitchen in business for a month.

Here are some great tips to extend the life of your cut herbs.

Short term Storage in the fridge:
Chopped herbs will save you prep time, especially if you're cooking for a crowd or making a few dishes that need last minute cooking (stir frying for example).
1. Rinse, drain and gently pat dry whole herbs.

2. Chop and place in small dishes or bowls.

3. Cover with dampened paper towels and chill for up to 3 days. If you need to store longer, cover with an additional layer of plastic wrap.

Whole herbs in the fridge:
1. Rinse, drain and gently pat dry.

2. Dampen a sheet of paper towel, squeeze out excess water and flatten. The damp towel prevents the herbs from drying out.

3. Fold and wrap the paper towel loosely around the stems or around the whole sprig.

4. Slip the wrapped herbs in a freezer bag, flatten gently to remove some of the air. Seal the bag and chill in the fridge for up to a week. And if you're lucky enough to have a local farmers market with a vendor or two that sells herbs - usually picked the day before, they'll last even longer.

Freezing herbs:
Most herbs will keep their flavour when frozen, but will not look very pretty. So they are best used in salad dressings, sauces, stuffings, soups and other slow cooked dishes.

Here are a few options:
Herb oil mix -
1. Coarsely chop the herbs in a food processor. With the motor running, add just enough olive oil to lightly coat the herbs (about 1 tbsp oil to 3 tbsp herbs)

2. Spoon the mixture into small freezer bags and seal securely. Or my favorite way...use Glad seal n press wrap...lay one sheet flat, spoon 1 tbsp portions of the herb mix over top, leaving about 1-2 inches between portions. Lay a second layer of wrap over top and seal around each portion. Then place in a zip lock freezer bag, label and store for up to 4 months.

Herb Ice Cubes - best for soups or other hot liquids.
1. Finely chop individual types of herbs or your favorite blend.

2. Fill an ice cube tray to the brim with herbs and pour some water over top - just enough to cover. Freeze until solid (about 2 hours).

3. Pop the frozen cubes out and lip into freezer bags. Seal, label and freeze for up to 6 months.

Please share your favorite ways in the comments.


Lonesome Old Granny said...

I have the original black thumb when it comes to plants. I do manage to grow basil, which I love. and at the end of the season I see my lovely basil dying, so i bit the bullet so to speak and bought a dehydrator. I got the more expensive one stainless steel, and let my cousin do her venison jerky, so I decided to make beef jerky, this thing is really a treat to have. I bought myy granddaughter one also, not the stainless one, just a plastic one, and she made dried fruits and veggies for her little one. I have done, strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries...I have "pick it yourself" orchard just down the road . I love it.
Have fun invest in one. the dried basil is soo good in sauces, etc.

Ruth Daniels said...

Thanks for the tip. And since my daughter has a dehydrator, I guess I'll have to borrow it. ;-D