Well Autumn finally arrived with it’s cold blast and wet weather brrr and my poor tomatoes took a battering last night, mind you I still managed to pick a basketful today and have been producing lots of Tomato and Chilli Jam. It is so good.
Another thing I have been doing it starting to preserve the herbs I saved back in May – check out the post about Frugal Gardening here ,they cost me so little and have been growing and producing herbs all summer.
Before the winter claims some of them I wanted to save some and there are lots of different ways to store them.
Freezing herbs is easy, even if you have a small freezer. The simplest way to freeze herbs is to spread dry, clean whole or chopped leaves onto a baking sheet, freeze overnight, and put the frozen herbs into sealed containers in the freezer for later use. Frozen herbs prepared this way last for months before they start to get tired-looking. You can freeze chives which is great way to have them for baked potatoes in winter without digging out in the snow.
For longer storage, freeze herbs by snipping leaves into small bits, packing the bits into an empty ice-cube tray, filling about ¾ full with water, and freezing; one measured tablespoon of herbs per cube is a good amount. The next day, top off with water and freeze again this covers the floating bits with ice to prevent freezer burn. Put the finished cubes into a sealed container in the freezer. Drop frozen cubes into soups, stews, and such, for fresh-cut flavour. My favourites are Mint as you can add them to Mojitos and other drinks.
You can also store them in olive oil in the freezer which is great for storing basil and oregano to throw in the pan when you are doing Italian cooking.
Pesto also freezes well—freeze it in an ice-cube tray and store the cubes in airtight containers in the freezer.
This method is so easy, just tie them up and hang them somewhere warm and dry or you can pop them in a de-dehydrator if you are lucky enough to own one.
Another great method for preserving herbs is to make them into flavoured butter and freeze that. Mince 1 part herbs (one type, or a blend) and mash into 2 parts softened butter, shape into a log, and freeze. Cut off slices of herb-flavoured butter as needed to melt over vegetables, meat, or fish, or to sauté in recipes for the taste of summer all winter long. My favourite flavoured butter is made with minced garlic and parsley, which makes awesome garlic bread!
Herb-Flavored Oils and Vinegars
To make flavoured vinegar, you will need bottles and cork stoppers to fit them (vinegar eats metal lids, even coated ones), enough good commercial vinegar to fill them, and fresh or dried herbs and spices. I like to use white-wine vinegar for delicate flavours like lemon balm or tarragon, and apple-cider vinegar for more robust flavours like rosemary. Store in a dark place for 4-6 weeks.