Extending the Herb Season


Fresh herbs brighten up oils, vinegars and sweet, creamery butter!

By FamilyTime

 Your herb garden is still bountiful and who wants to let all those aromatic herbs wither in the fall wind? You can dry or freeze your herbs, but you can also preserve them by infusing oils, vinegars, and butters with them. It's easy and so satisfying.

Oils

Olive oil infused with your garden-grown tarragon, thyme, basil, rosemary, or oregano (to name a few) will liven up mid-winter salads, sauces, and sautés.

To preserve herbs in oil, pound the herb to a paste in mortar with a pestle and stir in a few drops of high-quality olive oil. Mix this with the rest of the oil in the bottle, transfer to a sterilized bottle, cover, and set aside for about two weeks.

Strain the oil into another sterilized jar, add a few sprigs of the herb, seal with a cork or tight cap, and store in a cool, dark cupboard.

Vinegars

To preserve herbs in vinegar, follow almost the same procedure as for oil. Use these herb-flavored vinegars in vinaigrettes, sauces, marinades, and as lively accents to soups and stews.

The difference when making herbed vinegars instead of oils is that the vinegar is heated. Once the herb is pounded in the mortar, transfer it to a sterilized jar. Meanwhile, bring two or three cups of vinegar to a boil and pour it over the herb. For most herbs, white wine vinegar is the right choice.

Once the vinegar cools seal and set aside, as you did with the oil, for two to three weeks. Strain into another sterilized jar, add a few sprigs of the herb, seal, and store in a cool, dark cupboard.

Butter

Another way to extend the herb garden is to chop a generous amount of an herb – parsley, basil, or thyme, for example – and mix it with softened butter. You could use a mixture of herbs and add chopped garlic, too, if you like. Wrap the butter in wax paper, shaped into small logs, and freeze.

Use pats of the herb butter on potatoes and rice during the winter, or use it to make deliciously warm garlic or herb bread.

Herb-infused oils and vinegars make lovely gifts—but even if you never give them away you and your family will savor them all winter long.