FRESH THIS WEEK!
Bok Choi, Broccolini, Baby Carrots, Baby Beets, Spinach, Lettuce, Salad mix, Kale, Chard, Green Onions, Rhubarb, Arugula, Potatoes, Cut Flowers, Radishes, Salad Turnips, Fresh Herbs, Plant Starts
Cooking with Fresh (and Freshly-Dried) Herbs
I love to cook, and used to pride myself in having an herb/spice collection that was prepared for every possible cooking adventure! Juniper berries, garam masala, 3 types of curry, whole cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, Mexican ancho peppers… That was over 10 years ago. I was young, newly married, and everything was so perfectly organized – and then life happened. Now, more than a decade later, the collection looks almost the same – except pushed further back into the cabinet, faded, and covered in dust. And – most importantly – completely devoid of potency and flavor.
As I eyed my own garden this week – and the bundles of herbs our farmers are bringing to market – I realized how much flavor potential I’ve been missing by not making the most of what is so readily available locally. So here are a few tips I’m planning to employ in the next couple of weeks. I hope you’ll find some inspiration in here as well!
FRESH VS DRIED
When using fresh herbs in cooking, use about double the amount the recipe calls for. Dried herbs have more concentrated oils and thus more potent flavor.
DRYING YOUR OWN HERBS
In our climate, these 2 methods seem easiest:
Take a bundle of herbs and trim the stems back to a minimum. Use a twist tie to make the bundle (this allows you to tighten it as the stems shrink). Place in a paper bag with holes, or inside of something breathable (like cheesecloth) and hang until dry. Ideal temperature is 100 degrees, which makes me think a car might be perfect on a mild day, but that’s probably more hassle than I’m going to go to. The biggest concern is low humidity – so near the kitchen sink is probably not ideal.
I’ll be honest, this title appeals to me! Basically, this method involves placing the cut herbs in your fridge and forgetting them. For a few days, at least. Once they’re dry, you can crumble them into your spice jar. This method is supposed to work really well for maintaining color and potency. I’m trying it right now with chives!
Really enjoying this? Try creating your own herb blends (Italian, Bouquet Garni, Herbs de Provence), or your own herbal teas!
I’d love to hear from you on what you’re trying, and what has (or has not) worked for you in the past.
Also, we’re considering starting a Facebook recipe group so that we can all inspire each other with ideas and recipes for eating seasonally. If you’d be interested in joining, let me know.
Thanks for reading! Enjoy the market!