Gardening keeps my type-A tendencies in check. No matter how much time I spend planning, researching and carefully tending my garden, Mother Nature always has the upper hand. Well, Mother Nature, and my next door neighbor.
We live next door to a sweet old couple and our yards are separated by a red wood fence. When the red fence got repainted by his handy paint sprayer this summer, so did our herb garden. The chives, tarragon, parsley, basil, dill and thyme looked like they belonged in a crime scene. It was gruesome.
Luckily, my basil plants regrew quickly and I was able to salvage a few cups of undamaged leaves to preserve for winter use. I’ve found that drying herbs doesn’t do anything to retain the flavor and freezing whole herbs in ice cubes results in a watery texture-less mess once thawed. Preserving them in oil protects the herbs’ flavors because the taste and aroma come from the aromatic oils in the leaves. Genius!
I use preserved herbs exactly how I use fresh herbs: in pasta, meat and poultry, salad dressings, popcorn, etc. Matthew likes preserving them in butter rather than oil to make flavorful herb butters.
2 cups leaves (parsley, basil, cilantro, etc)
1/3 cup olive oil or 1/2 cup butter
Wash and dry herbs. I like to use a salad spinner to gently wash the leaves and lay them on a kitchen towel to air dry.
Place herbs in a food processor and pulse while you slowly add the olive oil, scraping down the sides occasionally.
To package the herbs, add about 1/2 cup of the mixture to a heavy duty zip-top bag. Flatten to make a thin layer and freeze. Don’t forget to label!
Herbs will keep for approximately six months in the freezer.