Ok so say you are one of those people who claim they can’t seem to grow a weed, let alone a vegetable, fruit, or herb. Fear not, as anyone can feel like they have a magic green thumb by growing herbs in a container garden. All you need is a nice size container, some fresh potting soil, sunshine, water, and a few of your favorite herbs. You will notice an amazing difference in flavor when you can incorporate fresh herbs into your dishes. Fresh herbs have a milder and more complex flavor profile which really enhances and compliments the other flavors in your dish. Dried herbs are stronger in flavor and tend to have just one dominant flavor. For this reason, when substituting fresh herbs for dried herbs in a recipe you will typical want to use about twice the quantity of fresh herbs. Speaking of dried herbs, keep in mind that dried herbs in your spice cabinet are not intended to be passed down to your heirs! Dry spices and herbs do have a shelf life after which they begin to lose their flavor impact. It’s a good idea to go through your cabinet once a year and toss out any of those old spice bottles that have been around for longer than a couple of years.
Here is a picture of the herb garden on my deck. I have Oregano, Basil, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme in my container. The plants actually grow faster than I can use them up, so all through Summer and Fall I have a fresh supply of my favorite herbs at my fingertips. You can see I have quite an “herb jungle” in my container.
The best part is that you can preserve your excess herbs in several different ways so that you can enjoy them long after the summer growing season is over. Here is a great article from Taste Of Home on how to preserve and/or freeze your herbs for future use.
One of my favorite ways to preserve fresh Basil and Oregano, which is not mentioned in the Taste Of Home article, is to freeze them in olive oil instead of water in ice cube trays. Once frozen, remove the cubes from the trays and seal in freezer bags. When I am ready to add flavor to my dishes, I can just plop one of those flavor nuggets right into my pan. The flavors of the herb infuse into the olive oil. Also don’t forget to use your herbs to make varieties of herb flavored butter which can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and frozen as well in freezer bags.
Here is another great Taste Of Home recipe you can try using your fresh herbs.
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons minced chives
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon Salad Supreme Seasoning
- 8 medium ears sweet corn, cooked
- In a small bowl, combine butter and seasonings; spread over hot
- cooked corn. Yield: 8 servings.
The fall Cooking School season is in full swing so make sure you come and check out one of our live shows. See you on the stage! Guy