I am an amateur gardener and an amateur chef. I can get my hands dirty and I can read a recipe. It’s not that difficult. With that being said, I have also had my share of disasters in the garden and in the kitchen. Hey, it’s all a learning process. One thing I know from all these experiences (whether good or bad) is that fresh herbs are the bomb. They can freshen up any dish in ways that dry herbs just cannot.
I am a “walk out the back door and grab a handful of herbs” kind of cook, so when the weather changes, cooking just isn’t as much fun. So, how can we have that fresh herb taste and smell all year round?
Herbs are very easy to grow and there are some fast growing annuals and some hardy perennials. Basil, Cilantro, Dill, Chives and Parsley are some of my favorite fast growing annuals and they can be sown a few times each year. Cilantro does well with multiple plantings as it grows so quickly. I personally need plants in different stages of growth so I can always have goodness all year round for fresh guacamole! Priorities, people. All of these herbs can be grown in a sunny windowsill with some well drained soil.
Rosemary, sage, thyme and mint are perennial herbs and can be grown indoors as well. They will need a more permanent home, but I honestly think it is beautiful to plant them in a nice terra cotta pot. Especially rosemary – such a romantic woody plant that can even be trained into an exotic topiary. Make sure to fertilize pot grown plants regularly, but not too much as the leaves can lose their flavor! booooo
But what if you don’t have the green thumb?
That’s OK! There are other ways to have fresh herbs all year round! Sometimes it is just about how you store them. If you purchase herbs from the grocery store, make sure to wash the tender ones – basil, cilantro, parsley – under cold water (cilantro tends to be very sandy?) and give em a good spin in the salad spinner to remove any water. Then you can trim the ends of their stems and put them in jars of about an inch of water. Cover the tops with a little plastic bag or wrap and store in the refrigerator. Basil can actually be kept in a sunny place on your countertop. Be sure to remove any bad looking leaves before you store the herbs because you don’t want to add to any decay.
Woody stemmed herbs can also be stored – rosemary, thyme, oregano – by rolling them up in a slightly damp paper towel and putting them inside a container in the fridge. This also works for chives as well. If you take good care of your herbs, they can last 1-3 weeks!
But what if you get an amazing harvest of herbs and you know you will never be able to eat it all in the next few weeks?
I got ya covered there too! Harvest your beautiful herbs, clean em up, remove woody stems and give them a rough chop. Grab those ice cube trays you never use anymore because you have an ice machine and fill up the little cubes with some of your chopped backyard (or grocery store) herbs. Rosemary, sage, oregano and thyme work the best in the cubes, but feel free to try your chives, basil and dill as well. Fill up the cube trays with your favorite Olive Oil and throw in the freezer to solidify. Once they are done freezing (more than 8 hours), you can pop them out of the trays and put them into a container to throw into any dish at a moments notice to brighten up the flavor. You can even use for breads or butters! Mmmmm
Perfection. 3 different ways to care for your herbs so you can have them all year round – grow them outdoors or indoors, preserve them in the refrigerator or freeze them in oil. It just requires a little bit of forethought and care, but anyone can do it. Fresh and delicious, herbs add such an amazing flavor to any dish.