Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Enjoying Last Summer's Herbs

I love fresh herbs. There is always a water glass full of fresh parsley and cilantro in my fridge. I also use a lot of fresh thyme. In the winter I frequently purchase fresh thyme from the supermarket in spendy little packages. Last summer I grew an abundance of thyme and for the first time attempted to preserve it by blanching and freezing. I am impressed with the results so much that I am going to grow and freeze as much as I can this summer.
This past fall I harvested a bunch of herbs all at once (top two photos). In batches I stuck the herbs into boiling water for just a few seconds, until they turned bright green then I immediately pulled them out and stuck them in an ice-bath. Then I dried them and rolled them up in wax paper and put them in freezer ziplocs. I tried this with thyme, oregano and parsley. I use the thyme the most. My theory is that small pungent firm herbs work better for this method than say parsely or basil - at least as far as using them as if they were fresh. I thought that I would use the herbs mostly for soups, stews and casseroles. The thyme is in such good condition it is almost as good as if it were fresh and I use it as if it were.

We are trying to be more concious of eating seasonally and locally...we are not in the most ideal location for this. Having said this eating well is vital to our families well being, so we are not fanatics about eating locally or seasonally. We now have our own eggs, milk and dairy products. We buy most our meat locally. I would love to be able to grow enough garlic, onions and root vegetables to get us through the winter. In the summer we play a game of sorts where we try to only use our own vegetables or those from the Farmer's Market, and supermarket vegetables are off limits until there are no fresh vegetable available. Buying fresh herbs from the supermarket in the winter is costly and often the product quality isn't great. So I am excited about growing, harvesting and preserving our herbs in a manner that keeps them as fresh and vibrant as possible.

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