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Preserving Herbiness October 29, 2009

Posted by Toy Lady in Cooking, Food, Garden.
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I love my herb garden!  I’ve grown to rely so much on fresh herbs – I may as well take all the dried stuff we’ve got and toss it – I can’t even remember the last time I used dried herbs, except maybe oregano.

I especially love the fresh flavors of sage and rosemary – and there’s just something about that combination that just says “autumn,” isn’t there?  A few times, I’ve come across what’s essentially a Tuscan herb blend, and I’ve fallen love with it!

And of course, there’s very little that isn’t improved by the addition of a bit of garlic, is there?

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There’s this stall at the public market that, in the late summer and fall, is devoted to garlic.  There’s this old guy who, I kid you not, has probably a dozen different varieties of garlic!

I know what you’re thinking.

Why would anyone have that many different garlics?  Garlic is garlic, after all!

Au contraire, mon ami.

This particular red-skinned, German variety boasts HUGE cloves, and a mild, yet garlicky flavor, far superior to the ubiquitous sticky, white garlic that we all grew up with.

So.  Now that winter is looming, and with it, the temporary loss of my lovely sage, as well as the (likely) permanent loss of this year’s rosemary, it’s time to think about preserving some of my favorite flavors for the winter.

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I cut a couple of handfuls of each sage and rosemary – maybe a little more sage than rosemary, but not much.  Rosemary does have a way of, well, taking over, doesn’t it?

Well, you should probably know that sage does that too.  So I kind of try to keep them even.

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While I was going after the herbs with my cool, handy-dandy mezzaluna (which, by the way, if you don’t have one, and if you ever chop any herbs, you should get one!), anyway, while I was doing that, Peeps was chopping the garlic.

Seriously, those were huge cloves, weren’t they?

Once everything was chopped, I tossed it all in a mixing bowl, along with a bit of salt.

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And yes, I know, I should probably get rocks of sea salt and grind them myself, or at the very least, get specific flavors of sea salt, but really.  Rosemary, sage and garlic.  Is it really going to matter if I use fleur de sel?  Honestly?  I didn’t think so.

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Once the mix has been mixed, we spread it on a sheet pan, covered it – loosely! – with a sheet of parchment (to keep any stray dust, dog hair, or what-have-you out of it!) and Peeps stuck it on top of the kitchen cabinet to dry (because I can’t reach up there without a chair!)

We left it up there for a few days – until it was thoroughly dry but not dusty (basically, until we remembered it was there), then I poured it into a pint jar, and Bob’s your uncle – we’ve got our dried Tuscan herb mix for the next few months!

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This stuff is absolutely fabulous!  I love a sprinkling on my pizza, or, along with an extra pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper, it’s the best seasoning – ever! – for a grilled or broiled steak.  Peeps is planning to use some in sausage this winter.  I want to try a pork roast seasoned with this mixture . . .  oh, the possibilities!

So, does anyone in the Internet have any thoughts or ideas?  How would you use such a blend?

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Comments

1. origamifreak - October 29, 2009

I don’t think grinding your own salt would be adequate. I think it would be MUCH more authentic if you dried it yourself from gourmet sea water.

😉

LOL

Well, yeah. But I’d have to harvest the water myself and there’s a decided lack of sea water around here. . .

2. sjbraun - October 30, 2009

Well, plain-cookin’ me doesn’t have ideas for how to use that blend (although I have full faith you’ll come up with something!).
Love the mezzaluna, if just because the name is so cool to say …
How many herbs (approx) do you grow? Do you have to start fresh (no pun intended) each year, or are some of them perennials? I’d like to have some herbs in the garden (well, I do have parsley, which is apparently impossible to kill!).
Susan

– Susan, I LOVE my herbs! And I adore the mezzaluna – I never thought I would care, but it does such a great job chopping . . . and you’re right, it is cool to say! MezzaLUNa. 😆

I’ve got mostly perennials – basil is, I think, the only annual herb I grow, and parsley is a biennial – if you planted it this year, it’ll come back next, and probably in the middle of the summer, it will bolt and then die. At least that’s what mine did. 😕

We have a 6-foot square bed for the herbs – let’s see, I’ve got chives, garlic chives, tarragon (wonderful in scrambled eggs!), oregano (still trying to take over!), sage, marjoram, thyme and rosemary. Actually, the rosemary is, I guess, an annual here, too, but it COULD be a perennial in a warmer zone. And I’ve heard of it surviving the winter in the midwest, so it could happen here. That, and every single time I’ve tried to keep it in the house, it definitely keels over and dies, so I may as well let it die a natural, dignified death, rather than trying to keep it in a pot!

I keep putting mint in pots, and it keeps doing not so well either, so next spring, I’m going to bite the bullet and stick some in the ground – I’m pretty sure the oregano will keep it from taking over!

I think next year, I’m going to plant basil in the “regular” garden and put in some more obscure perennial herbs – I’m thinking maybe lavender (love it with chicken!) and some savory, and maybe even chervil, which I have no idea about, but I like saying that, too. CHERvil. 😆


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