The garden is slowly winding down, but many herbs are still producing lots of tasty additions to your meals.
Before that cold does hit them though, there are a few ways you can be preserving them.
I talked before about dehydrating them, which creates an all-purpose way of using them in a variety of dishes.
If you do dehydrate them, pack the leaves whole into jars or airtight bags to store them.
Leaving the leaves whole helps preserve the flavor more by retaining the oils. Then smash them up once you are ready to toss them into your favorite dish.
There also are alternatives to dehydrating.
Another method is to freeze them. You don’t want to just stick them in the freezer as they are or you will end up with herbs that have wilted and turned black.
Instead, freeze them in cubes. To do this you will wash and pat dry the herbs. Then trim the stems and chop them up. You can use an ice tray, or I have a silicone tray with a lid (this can be found in the canning supplies) which makes them easy to pop out. Fill each square a little over half full with the herbs, packing them in fairly tightly.
Then top off each square with melted butter or olive oil. These will freeze into cubes, which can be dropped into a soup or other recipe.
I have made cubes of butter with parsley and with basil before, but I look forward to trying some new ones.
Starting next week I will look at some different recipes I have come up with for each of the herbs I grow. Do you have a favorite herb and dish in which you use it? Let me know. I’d love to try it out.
Side note: I was told about another way to use peppers after my last column. It was suggested to make canned/bottled pepper sauce, something this reader’s grandmother always did. Has anyone else tried this? I’m looking forward to giving it a try.
Until next time, happy garden-fresh eating!
Julie Clements is a Butler County Master Gardener.
Share your ideas for garden-fresh recipes or ways to preserve at firstname.lastname@example.org and some will be featured in upcoming columns.