This series is for farmers, gardeners, or anyone overloaded with produce. Written by Monica Johnson, a woman who farmed her way from Brooklyn, NY to her current home in Deep East Texas, "Putting Up Your Summer Harvest" is full of tips and tricks to keep your food waste down and your culinary enjoyment lasting throughout the colder seasons. Enjoy these clever ways to preserve your fruitful harvest courtesy of Food Politic.
My herb garden has waxed and waned this year. After a recent shot of compost and several days of light rain, my herbs look pretty darn good. All except my cilantro, which has completely gone kaput. I rarely go a meal without using herbs and the convenience of being able to pull them fresh out of the garden will be greatly missed in the upcoming chilly months.
I decided to save herbs in every way possible and had to get creative to find uses for all of my herbs.
Here are eight helpful hints I have used to put up your herbs so you can enjoy them year-round:
1. Make Cubes. This is a great way to use any time of the year. Freeze your choice of herbs with water or oil in a freezer tray or in these fancy trays made specifically for this. Fill up the cubes with 2/3 herbs and 1/3 liquid and freeze. Pop out a cube or two any time you would use oil like stir-frys, sautés, etc. You can also add the water and herb cubes to your water, tea, lemonade and even an adult beverage.
2. Make Herb Logs. This works best with chives, parsley and dill. Put washed herbs in a bag and roll it up. Place a rubber band around the middle to hold its form. Take out of freezer when you need fresh herbs and cut off amounts you need.
3. Make Compound Butter. Let butter soften at room temp. Then add your herbs. You can do one herb or make a combination. Roll it up in wax paper and seal at each end with rubber bands or twist-ties. (It will look like a piece of candy) Some of my favorite combinations this summer are dill, chives, parsley and ginger, sage, chives.
4. Make Your Own Seasoning. Dehydrate herbs. Take dry leaves off of the stems and crush to desired size. Then place in spice containers. Check out this fun spice jar life hack where you use old Parmesan lids on mason jars to make homemade spice jars.
5. Make Popsicles. You can make a great herb ice tea and then freeze them as popsicles for a treat during the dogs days of summer. Bring water to a boil, turn off the heat and add your herbs. Let them steep for at least 30 minutes. Then freeze in popsicle molds. Flavor your lemonade with mint or lavender and freeze in popsicle molds for a sweet treat.
6. Flavor Liquids. You can flavor oil, honey or vinegar. I have a ton of lavender this year and just don't know what to do with it. So I got creative and made Lavender honey. This is great on pancakes or hot oatmeal.
7. Make Herb Paste or Pesto. We usually associate pesto with basil, but you can use so many other herbs such as cilantro, parsley or make a mixture of herbs. Leave out the nuts and Parmesan to just make a paste for flavoring for sautés, or a spread on toast. Freeze to use at a later time.
8. Cut Them Up. Once you have washed and dried your herbs. Cut them to a desired size and freeze. You can pull these out for garnish, flavoring in cooking, or toss on top off a salad.