One of my favorite things about summer is fresh herbs. Even when I was in an apartment, I had all my pots lined up on the deck, boasting fresh bunches of oregano, basil, cilantro, rosemary and more.
Towards the end of the summer, when a distinct chill starts to creep through the air, I always debate what to do with my remaining herbs. I never have the space to bring the pots inside and keep them going – beside, I’m pretty sure my cat would just dig them up.
This year is different. I am prepared with loads of ideas to preserve and utilize all my leftover herbs.
Photo courtesy thekitchn.com.
Yes, you can freeze fresh herbs. They actually last way longer this way and the flavors are so well preserved. There are lots of ways to go about this, but my favorite so far is freezing them in olive oil with an ice cube tray. I love this tray from CasaBella the best. The cubes are small and square so you can get good oil to herb ratio, plus the silicone makes it super easy to pop out the cubes without breaking them.
To do this, roughly chop up herbs and place them in the cube tray using equal amounts in each mold. Fill the molds with olive oil (or a different oil of your preference — coconut oil works well too, but I prefer the flavor of olive for cooking.) Freeze the trays and add a cube to recipes as you cook. You can remove the cubes from the trays after a day and throw them all in a freezer-safe Ziploc bag to free up the molds for other projects.
Skip the freezing all together and create your own oil infusions. Glass oil bottles are inexpensive and easy to store. Slide bunches of your favorite fresh herbs into the bottles – maybe one with basil, another with rosemary or get creative and mix different flavors in one bottle – fill them with oil and leave them in a cabinet to infuse for no more than three months. Just like the cubes, this oil can be added to cooking and baking – or better yet, mopped up with some nice, crusty bread.
Butter me up
Photo courtesy goodlifeeats.com.
If you prefer to enjoy those fresh herbs sooner rather than later, compound butter is a great, inexpensive and almost effortless way to utilize them.
I’ve yet to meet a compound butter I will turn my nose up at. There are tons of recipes online, but the idea is so simple you can do whatever you want.
Throw two sticks of very, very soft butter in a bowl and set aside. Mince one tablespoon each of your favorite herbs — I love mincing up some fresh garlic as well. Throw in your herbs and mix with the soft butter until completely combined. Roll out some plastic wrap and scoop the butter on top. From there, form a long roll with the butter and roll the warp around it, twisting the ends. Let you fresh butter set in the fridge before using. Now you can add this tasty butter to baking and cooking – or snacking.
Outside to in
If you do want to keep you herbs inside for the colder months, there are a couple easy transitions you can make.
Photo courtesy domestically-speaking.com.
Bring the outside in by utilizing a cool window box indoors. The great thing about window boxes is that they allow you to maintain multiple plants in one pot, limiting clutter and mess. Even better, they typically come with mounting hardware and can easily be anchored to a kitchen wall, staircase railing, windowsill and other spaces. Doing this allows you to tend to your herbs without hording space with multiple pots.
If you’re feeling a little more DIY creative, consider mason jar planters. These adorable alternative planters can make a great display piece for your kitchen. Mount a few to an empty wall or the side of your cabinets to create a playful spot for your herbs. The clear glass presents an opportunity to get creative too. Place rocks or cool glass stones in the bottom of the jars to accent your kitchen décor or color scheme.
Utilize these easy steps to enjoy your fresh herbs throughout the entire year.
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