I have always used a lot of herbs…much to the dismay of my mother and most of my family. On the other hand I rarely use salt…also much to their dismay.
The subtle (and, sometimes, not so subtle) difference in taste between chicken flavored with tarragon versus chicken flavored with thyme is amazing. Can you imagine turkey without sage? Or tomatoes without basil? Sausage without fennel?
After a wonderful summer of using all the herbs fresh, now is the time to start thinking about winter….
And how to save some of those wonderful herbs before the frost takes them….
It's simple: buy a couple of plastic ice cube trays just to be used for herbs. Finely chop the herbs and put into the ice cube tray. Cover with chicken stock or water and freeze. When frozen pop out and put in a freezer bag labeled with the herb name.
Some herbs can also be frozen whole: Sage, tarragon, chives, thyme. Basil will discolor but the flavor is fine. Freeze on a try, then put into freezer bags. They will keep 8 – 12 months.
To use: They can go into everything: drop a cube or 2 into rice as it cooks, or sauces, or soups – anything that is cooked that you would use fresh or dried for. They have the taste of fresh with the ease of dried.
Note: If you are buying herbs but not using them all – pop them in the freezer…
Some of the basil I puree with olive oil for a pesto-like flavor (Don't add the other stuff for pesto until you thaw to use.)
Tie clean herbs in bunches and hang upside down in a cool, dry place with plenty of air circulation, and, if possible, without dust. When leaves are dry rub off stems and store in bags, jars or tins. They will keep up to a year.
Storing fresh herbs:
Wrap the stems lightly in a damp paper towel or trim and stand in a bit of water and refrigerate. They will keep up to a week.
One of the disadvantages to having your own garden is feeling obligated to eat everything it produces.
When we get tired of cucumber salads, I make these:
3 – 4 cucumbers, thinly sliced – but with a knife, about 1/16th" thick (.2cm)
1 green pepper, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 1/2 tsp celery salt
1 1/2 tsp regular, sea or pickling salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 tsp dill weed
Put cucumbers, peppers and onions in a large bowl. Sprinkle with salts, mix well and allow to site at room temperature for 1 – 3 hours.
At the same time mix sugar, vinegar, dill and set aside – it takes awhile for the sugar to dissolve into the vinegar, so it's best to do it ahead. After a couple of hours add the sugar/vinegar to the cucumbers, mix well and refrigerate. They are ready in a day and keep for a month.
These are very crunchy… and get better as they age. (If you can keep them that long)