Food & Entertaining - Garden to Table

Five ways to preserve your herbs in five minutes

Charmian Christie

Don't let all that flavour wither on the vine! Try these simple recipes to season a variety of meals

3. Infuse them into vinegar
Herb-infused vinegars form the base of fabulous homemade dressings. Use them anywhere you would normally use wine vinegar—soups, stews and sauces.

Five-minute fix: Keeping the leaves on the stems, wash the herbs to prevent any dirt from being added to the mix. Dry them and place a large handful in a clean glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Fill the jar with white wine vinegar and a pinch of salt. Seal tightly and give the jar a shake. Shake the jar daily and in a couple of weeks, you’ll have delicious infused vinegar.

Best choices: Tarragon, thyme, rosemary, dill or a mixture. A whole clove of garlic goes well, too.

Keeps for: Up to a year if kept in a cool, dark place.

4. Add them to oil
Herb oil adds flavour to a meal without adding prep time. Toss vegetables in it before roasting, drizzle some on homemade pasta or rub some under the skin of a chicken before popping it into the oven.

Five-minute fix: Wash and dry the herbs. Purée in a blender with an equal amount of olive oil or canola oil. Blend until smooth then pour into ice cube trays and freeze. Once frozen, transfer the cubes to a resealable bag. Defrost before using.

Best choices: Basil, cilantro, thyme, rosemary, chives, savory, sage or a mix.

Keeps for: Up to six months in the freezer. Use immediately upon defrosting.

5. Butter them up
Ever had fancy herb butter at a high-end restaurant? A small investment of time leaves a big impression. Slather herbed butter on homemade bread, stir some into mashed potatoes or let a slice melt over steamed vegetables. What could be easier?

Five-minute fix: Wash, dry and finely chop the herbs. Mix one part herbs into two parts softened butter. Add a grind of fresh black pepper if you like. Place the herbed butter on a sheet of waxed paper or parchment and roll to form a log. Wrap the log in a couple layers of cling wrap and freeze. When you’re ready to use the herb butter, slice as many 1/4-inch thick “cookies” as you need. They soften in minutes.

Best choices: Dill, chives, basil, tarragon, parsley or a combination.

Keeps for:
Up to six months in the freezer.

Charmian Christie is an avid gardener and home cook. When she's not digging in the dirt, she's charting her culinary adventures on her blog, Christie's Corner.


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