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Herbs - Storing Tips

Herb Oils & Vinegars

Herb Butters & Mayo

Herb Salsa & Pesto

Herb Sugars & Syrups

Herb Soups

Herb Cakes & Biscuits




Spinach etc.

Herb Oils and Vinegars

These are a good way of preserving the flavour of herbs and are easy to make. They keep for several months and allow you to enjoy in winter the flavour of summer herbs.
Always pick herbs for preserving on a dry, sunny day, preferably in the morning. Rain sodden herbs have had some of their flavour washed out and the extra moisture makes them more difficult to preserve. So make sure the herb leaves are dry but do not let a long day of hot sunshine evaporate all their essential oils.
Pick the bunches of leaves that are growing at the top of the shoot or branch, these will be the youngest and will have the best flavour; reject, old, tired leaves from the bottom of the plant.

Herb Vinegars
Use fresh tasting herbs like Dill, French Tarragon, Salad Burnet or Lemon Verbena. It is best to make single herb vinegars, rather than mixtures, as one flavour will tend to dominate during storage.
Choose a jar with a plastic lid, an old honey jar is good, and pick enough of your chosen herb to fill it loosely. Don’t chop the herb up just pack in whole sprigs. Pour in enough good white wine or cider vinegar to cover all the herb leaves and fill the jar. Leave the closed jar for 2-3 weeks, some say in the dark, others on a sunny windowsill; I've done both successfully. Give the jar a shake most days.
When the herb has thoroughly infused, strain the flavoured vinegar into a clean bottle or jar. Make sure this too has a plastic lid as vinegar will corrode a metal one and become tainted. Label so you will remember what it is.
Use herb vinegars in salad dressings and sauces, in mayonnaise and marinades.

Herb Oils
These are more robust so you can use a wider range of herbs. However, those herbs that have fairly tough leathery leaves and a strong flavour work best. Avoid really sappy ones like sorrel, chives or rocket as they might go mouldy.
Basil, Marjoram, Oregano, Sage, Rosemary, Savory and all the Thymes will give deliciously aromatic oils. Again it is best to make single flavour oils.
Don’t use jars or bottles that have hard plastic lids as the oil can weaken them so they fall to pieces. For the final storage cork is best.

Pick a big bunch of your chosen herb and pack it loosely into a jar; again use whole sprigs or twigs of the herb, don’t chop them up as the juices from the herbs will discolour the oil. Fill the jar to the brim with light olive oil, grapeseed, safflower or other mild flavoured oil that won’t overwhelm the taste of the herb. Leave, definitely, on a sunny windowsill for 2-3 weeks, shaking most days.
Strain the oil into a clean bottle, put in a sprig of fresh herb to look nice and for identification, label and store.
The essential herb oils that have imbued your basil or oregano oil will give your cooking a strong reminder of summer. Use them in salad dressings and mayonnaises but don’t also use a herb vinegar or you will taste neither. They will add extra flavour to grilling and frying and add a subtle herby flavour to dried bean dishes. They will transform the last of the tomatoes and will make a meal out of some plain boiled pasta and grated parmesan. They will also make a superb bruschetta.

Toast on both sides slices of white or wholemeal bread under the grill or bake them in the oven until they are crisp. Put the toasted bread slices on a plate and, while they are still hot, rub with the cut side of a clove of garlic and pour over some herb oil; enough to soak in but not make the toast soggy. Sprinkle with salt. Reheat if necessary to serve hot.
You can top each with a slice of tomato or some stoned olives.