Tips From The Kitchen: Making the Most of Summer Herbs

When we think summer, we think fresh. And nothing says ‘fresh’ better than colorful herbs from the garden. We have an herb garden right here at our York Company Store, and we love incorporating our crops directly into our recipes. Two of our summer favorites are our Roasted Garlic Potato Salad with fresh basil and parsley and our Shrimp Summer Rolls with Two Sauces featuring fresh mint and cilantro.

If you plan to harvest your herbs, it’s important to know how to keep them fresh. Once you bring your herbs inside, give them a quick rinse and cut off the ends of the stems. Place them in a glass of water, cover loosely with a plastic bag and refrigerate. This will keep the leaves fresh much longer than dropping them into your vegetable drawer.

If you find your leaves are getting limp before you plan to use them, cut a portion of the stems off. Gently rinse them and submerge them in ice water for about 10 minutes, allowing any dirt to settle in the bottom. Lift them out of the bowl and spin in a salad spinner or pat dry with a tea towel or paper towel. They are now ready for use.

While most grocery stores carry fresh herbs year-round, you just can’t beat the taste—and pride—that accompanies cooking with your homegrown ingredients. We’ve got a great tip to keep your herbs fresh for several months: freeze them! Try one of these tips for freezing herbs and elongate the life of your garden well into the fall season.

First, you’ll need to wash the herbs and dry them thoroughly. If you’re using herbs fresh from your garden, be sure to wash them in saltwater. This water will kill any bugs that may be on the herbs.

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  • Method 1: Chop your herbs. Transfer approximately 2 tablespoons into an ice cube tray. Top with water and freeze. Once frozen, remove the cubes from the tray and store in the freezer for future use.
  • Method 2: Try making an oil-based paste. Chop your herbs. Mix about 1/3 cup of olive oil with 2 cups of herbs, then pour into your ice cube tray and freeze. Once frozen, remove the cubes from the tray and store in plastic freezer bags in the freezer for future use.
  • Method 3: Remove leaves from stems and place on a cookie sheet. Place in your freezer for several hours. Transfer leaves to a plastic freezer bag and remove as much air as possible when closing. Store in your freezer until needed.

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For each method, be sure to label your freezer bags so you know which herb you have frozen and how much of it you used. By keeping your herb measurements exact and written on the bags, you will know how much you are adding to your future recipes.

We’d love to hear how you keep your herbs fresh. Leave us a comment on this post, or reach out to us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

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