TIPS YOU NEED TO KNOW TO HELP THE EARTH AND DELIGHT YOUR TASTE BUDS
There is one thing you can do now that will give you pleasure all winter long. It isn’t hard, it doesn’t take a lot of time, it will save you money, and your taste buds will be delighted that you did it! What is this mysterious tip?
The answer is preserving all the fresh herbs that are in season now. They will add so much flavor to all the foods you make this winter. There are other benefits worth mentioning: You’ll save money because buying herbs that are out of season is expensive. Convenience—having all the herbs you need at your fingertips makes cooking much easier.
But one reason stands out and is more important than the others: The carbon dioxide produced to transport the herbs from where they are grown to your local store. Transporting food is a large cause of air pollution. Everything we can do, even the little things, to reduce our carbon footprint makes a difference.
Preserving herbs is easy, doesn’t take a lot of time or skill, and it helps us all.
There are three ways you can do it:
Drying them, making a paste out of them, or freezing them.
Keep in mind that dried herbs are three to four times stronger than fresh herbs. Store them in a glass container that you keep in a dark, dry place.
- Group the herbs into a bundle and tie them together around the stems. Hang them to dry, stem side up. Once they’re completely dry, remove the leaves from the stems and store in a glass air-tight container and label.
- Herbs can be dried in your microwave on a paper towel. Spread the herbs out so they do not overlap and cover with a paper towel. Microwave for about two minutes, checking after one minute to see how the herbs are doing. Time will depend on the density of the herbs. Store as above or place in re-sealable bags, removing as much air as possible before closing and labeling.
- Dehydrators work well. You need to follow the directions that come with the machine and store as above.
- Put the herb of your choice in the bowl of a food processor and start processing while adding enough olive oil to make a paste. Spoon the paste into a glass jar and refrigerate; it will keep for three months. Alternatively, spoon the paste into an ice cube tray and freeze. Once frozen, put them into a re-sealable freezer bag. They will keep frozen for 10 to 12 months.
- Be creative and combine your own herbs to make your own blends. Since everything looks the same when it is frozen, make certain to label and date all your different bags.
Once frozen, the herbs will last 10 to 12 months—just in time for next summer.
- Chop the herbs so they are ready to use. Fill an ice cube tray with the chopped spices and top off each cube with either water or olive oil. Either one works. Once they are frozen, remove them from the tray and place in a re-sealable bag that you’ve labeled. When you are ready to use one, just remove from the bag and drop it into what you are cooking.
- Another way to freeze the herbs is to lay the fresh herbs on a tray or plate and place them in the freezer. Once they are completely frozen, place them in a re-sealable plastic bag and roll them up, removing as much air as possible. Seal the bag. Label and tape closed.
This is such an easy and practical way to have great flavor at your fingertips and help the air quality at the same time.
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