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KATHY'S HOME & GARDEN TIPS - FLAVORFUL WAYS TO PRESERVE HERBS

Whether you get your herbs at a Farmer’s Market or grow them yourself they are plentiful this time of year. Often we buy or grow more than we can use and end up throwing much out. There are ways to extend their shelf life and enjoy fresh herb taste in the dead of winter. You also know your herbs are organically grown and environmentally responsible.

I used to recommend drying as it is the easiest. But most herbs lose so much flavor that I really only use it for tough herbs like parsley and rosemary. Dry washed, dried herbs on a rack over a cookie sheet in a 120 degree oven. Leave the door open, you are drying them not cooking. Store in airtight glass jars away from heat and light. Use within a few months for optimal flavor.

Freezing is simple and easy. You can freeze whole leaves and sprigs. Lay washed and dried herbs on a baking sheet. Lay flat in the freezer overnight. In the morning pack them into freezer bags, squeezing out as much air as you can. Again use quickly as they will lose flavor. For longer storage time freeze in ice cubes. Chop herbs and place a tablespoon in each compartment. Fill ¾ the way with broth or water. Freeze, afterwards top with more water or broth and freeze again. Herbs tend to float, the two stage freeze will prevent freezer burn on tender herbs. Use these in soups and stews for great flavor. Pesto also freezes well in ice cube trays. Store in freezer bags.

Herb butters are delicious and versatile. Mince fresh herbs, a mixture or just one, into softened organic butter. Do one part herbs to two parts butter. Mix, form into a log and freeze. Use slices to melt over meat and vegetables or sauté in recipes. Garlic and parsley herb butter make great garlic bread.

Vinegar is one of the oldest preserving methods still used today. With all the different types of vinegar available today the possibilities are endless. Wash and dry whole leaves and sprigs. Slide the herbs into clean glass jars. Fill the bottles with room temperature vinegar and store in a cool dark place. Use jars with cork or plastic stoppers. Vinegar eats metal. Use about ½ cup herbs to 2 cups vinegar. More if you want more concentrated flavor. The flavor will intensify in 4-6 weeks.

We don’t recommend herb oils. If there is even a trace of moisture on the herbs it makes a good environment for growing botulism bacteria. If you must, store in the refrigerator and use in a few weeks.

KATHLEEN WEAVER-ZECH & DEAN'S TEAM CHICAGO

Posted: Tuesday, July 28, 2015 10:55 AM by Dean's Team

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