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Celery and Celeriac


Herbs - Storing Tips

Herb Oils & Vinegars

Herb Butters & Mayo

Herb Salsa & Pesto

Herb Sugars & Syrups

Herb Soups

Herb Cakes & Biscuits




Spinach etc.

Herbs - Tips for Storing

Harvesting your Herbs
As soon as you think the plant is big enough to spare you some leaves you can start picking. Leaves picked on a dry day will taste better than rain-sodden ones. It is easier, and better for the plant, to cut whole sprigs and twigs and strip the leaves off in the kitchen; choose bits from the growing ends of branches where the leaves are younger or pick leaves from the centre of the clump where they are freshest.
As well as the leaves some herb flowers taste good, have a nibble and if you like them scatter a few on salads or cut whole flowering stems and use them for flavouring soups or stews or to make herb oils and vinegars. Dill and Fennel produce seeds that can be used in cooking either fresh or dried.
When harvesting herbs to store it is best to pick them before they start to flower, so usually in May or early June. Marjoram and Mint can be cut down after flowering, given a liquid feed and allowed to regrow for a fresh flush of leaves.

Storing your Herbs
Drying is the traditional way to preserve herb leaves for the winter but some keep their flavour this way better than others. Thyme, Sage, Rosemary and Marjoram dry well, Tarragon and Basil reasonably and Mint, Chives, Parsley and Rocket poorly. If you want to dry herbs cut whole branches or twigs, tie them loosely together and hang them up in a dry, airy place out of direct sun, not in the kitchen which will be too humid. Leave them for a week or two and when they feel really dry and crisp rub off the leaves and put them in screw top jars.
Mint and Parsley will freeze: put whole sprigs or leaves in a plastic bag in the freezer and when you want to use them crumble the frozen leaves into the dish.

You can preserve the flavour of some herbs in oils or vinegars. Thyme, Sage, Rosemary, Marjoram, Basil and Fennel make delicious oils; Tarragon, Dill and Mint make good vinegars. To make herb oils or vinegars fill a clean glass jar with the leaves of your chosen herb and cover either with a light olive or sunflower oil or a cider or white wine vinegar. Screw on the top, not a metal one for vinegar, and leave for 2-3 weeks on a sunny windowsill. Strain off the flavoured oil and bottle for later use.

Pesto can be made from Parsley or Rocket as well as Basil, or from a mixture of herbs. Provided you keep the surface covered with olive oil it will keep for a couple of months in the fridge or you can put some in ice cube trays and freeze it.

Herb jellies, a basic apple jelly flavoured with Mint, Rosemary, Sage or Thyme, are a good way of preserving a herby flavour and will keep for years.

Herb butters are short-lived, only lasting for 3-4 weeks in the fridge; chop Parsley, Chives, Rocket, Fennel, Thyme or Sage, either singly or in combinations, into softened butter and use in baked potatoes or for “garlic bread”.

Herbs can be used in the house in ways other than for cooking. Tie a up bunch of Peppermint, Lemon Balm or Rosemary and hang it under the showerhead or the hot tap of the bath to refresh and invigorate.

Herbs are a healthy flavouring for food and growing your own organically will save you money. The more you use herbs the more things you will think of to do with them.

Fresh Herbs in Winter
Some perennial herbs die down in the winter and others keep their leaves all the year round. Even those that keep their leaves, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, will not have a very good flavour when frosted or covered in snow so if you can bring some of them under cover in the autumn you will be able to use them for longer. Rosemary is quite easily killed by winter cold and wet and Sage does not like cold winds so protecting them pays off.
Parsley will keep its leaves under cover but probably loose them in a hard winter outside. It does not like to be dug up so grow some plants in pots so you can bring them under cover in November.
Marjoram, Fennel, Tarragon, Chives and Mints all disappear in winter but, again, if you have some in a pot under cover or put some Enviromesh over the plant they will start growing earlier in the spring when you are really longing for some fresh herbs.