Tuesday, October 21, 2008

kitchen tip Tuesday…fresh herb preservation

I am introducing a new feature to feasting…on pixels that I am calling kitchen tip Tuesday.
It will highlight a new kitchen tip each week either from my personal collection of tips I discovered over the years, from cooking classes and trial and error discoveries.

I will also feature information on a new kitchen product trends that I discovered in my food discovery travels or a tip from my kitchen reference library volumes as:
How to Break an Egg,
How to Peel a Peach,
Food Lover’s Companion,
Cooking School Secrets for the Real World ,
Brilliant Food Tips and Cooking Tricks,
On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen,
Chef's Secrets: Insider Techniques from Today's Culinary Masters ,
I’m Just here for the Food, and many, many other sources.

The reference books that I own have so many real world handy techniques, kitchen tips, substitutions and emergency fixes that have helped me to me a better and more efficient cook. But I have to say they are not always the books that I curl up with on a cold winter’s night.

The brain child of this weekly feature is two fold: one of course is to bring you a small piece of kitchen help that I or others have amassed over the years or a brand new exciting food or kitchen trend.

The other driving force was to make use of all the food reference books and magazines that line my shelves and are piled on the floor in my workspace.
I know that I have not made the best use of all these food references that stuff my library walls or the kitchen tips that are stuffed in my brain.
So I guess you are helping me help you in a round about way…

fresh herb preservation

My favorite cooking herbs that I grow in my kitchen garden are chives, parsley, basil and oregano. In my small kitchen, there is not a great deal of counter space under the “gro-light” for herbs to live during the winter months. With that in mind, I harvest all that I can from those plants I cannot bring indoors.

Working in batches according to herb, I remove the parsley, oregano and basil leaves from the stems, wash them and give them a ride in the salad spinner.
Then I spread the herbes in a single layer of paper toweling to air dry on my counter.

I do the same for the chives, but instead of chopping them on a cutting board, I clip them with kitchen shears. I use a rubber band to hold the herbs together, and you clip the stems, simply move the rubber band back. The elastic will keep the chives taut and steady, making them easier to scissor through and less likely to get squashed if you had chopped them on a board.
I put each batch of herbs into the microwave separately and nuke the batches at 20 second intervals on high checking for dryness to touch between each turn.
The herbs usually take about 1- 2 minutes total for each batch.

Be particularly careful with the basil leaves as these tender leaves are easily burnt.
Discard any that get brown before storing.
Set each batch on its paper towel on the counter to cool.
If herbs are dry to the touch, store in an airtight container away from light and heat.

Although this method is a bit time consuming, the final result is that the herbs remain green, fragrant, and much more flavorful than the dry herbs from the mega-mart. Plus I know that they were grown with pesticides.

And in the dead of winter while I am making a rich stew, a warming soup, a savory pasta sauce or adding an herb garnish, I have these aromatic herbs put by not only as a reminder of my summer herb garden, but a promise of flavorful recipes all winter.


Anonymous said...

Kitchen tip Tuesday is a wonderful iniative. Your method for preserving herbs is super. I also want to thank you for the info on the Rouge Vif pumpkins. I live in France, so this was especially helpful.
Best to you...Dedene

Farmgirl Susan said...

What a great way to dry herbs. Thanks for the tip! :)

SLM said...

This series is a great idea. I know what you mean about making use of the 'zines that you have collected over the years. Even though I do nothing more than open a box, your article makes for some interesting reading.

feasting-on-pixels (terrie) said...

Merci beaucoup for all the great feedback on my first kitchen tip post. I do so appreciate that you took the time to comment on this post, it means a great deal to me.

Dedene, I am so glad that you like this Tuesday feature. I will work hard to bring you the best tips I have.
Also happy you like the post on the Rouge Vif d'Estampes pumpkin, it is my fave one.

farmgirl, glad you liked the tip.
Just seem perfect for this time of year to save summers bounty before the frost.

salut slm, glad that you like this series. I love leaning more and passing it on. Even when opening a box, sometimes a few kitchen tips can make a box meal much more delicious.

Merci mille fois encore for your feedback...! ! !

A Brush with Color said...

Oooh--love this step-by-step description. I haven't nuked the basil this way--I'll have to try that! I love the herbs you listed. I can just smell them...I'm definitely going to try this method. I'll look forward to your other tips. I love the internet! ;))