Do you ever preserve the herbs you grow?
I’ve written a couple of posts about growing herbs but once you have a sufficient quantity, you might like to start using them. Herbs can easily be popped into bags and frozen loose. They can also be chopped up, placed into ice-cube trays, topped up with water and added directly to dishes later, or they can be dried by hanging them upside down in bunches which allows the full flavour of their oils to develop.
This year I’m making much more of an effort to preserve our food. It started with the three different fruit cordials recently blogged and now it’s the turn of the herbs
If like me you tend to leave herbs to flower for the bees, popping outside only occasionally to snatch fresh handfuls to add to cooked meals or salads, you might like to try flavouring vinegars with them that can be drizzled onto food for a change.
I’ve chosen the simplest method I’ve come across that was suggested by Darina Allen in her Complete Cookery Course.
It involves adding a few sprigs of herbs to sterilised bottles and completely covering them with a vinegar of choice. I’ve started by separately adding tarragon, mint and fennel into three small, *sterilised bottles filled with a simple white wine vinegar. I’m still on the look out for a locally sourced cider vinegar given that it’s so good for us too!
The best time to pick herbs is in the early morning after the dew has dried and before they flower and are at their most flavourful.
Tarragon vinegar can be used as a base for a vinaigrette or added to soups, casseroles and sauces. Mixed with cream it’s a delicious accompaniment to chicken. Mint and vinegar are synonymous with lamb dishes but will be tasty with salads and couscous. Fennel vinegar can be added to salads, chicken and fish dishes.
How to sterilise bottles
We save bottles and jars for preserving but there are some pretty alternatives for sale if you’d like to use them for gifts. Either way they should be sterilised and the easiest way I’ve found is to soak them in hot, soapy water, wash them thoroughly removing all the labels and glue then pop them in an oven to dry at 180 °C for about 15 minutes and fill them when they’re still hot.
Once bottled the vinegar should be stored in a cool, dark place.
Do you have a favourite recipe that would taste delicious with a herb vinegar?