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Preserving and Cooking with Herbs

Sources for generic and individual uses: Brooklyn Botanic Garden Record, Herbs & Cooking, Cooking with Herbs; Washington Cathedral Greenhouse;Fruits of the Forest, Cooking with Wild Food, Sue Style; Herbs, A Country Garden Cookbook, Rosalind Creasy and Carole Saville. 

Note:  Herbs are so easy to preserve and add so much to cooking that it is hard to imagine not using them.  Even if you don't grow your own, buy them in season from your local farmer's market.  Or, preserve them using some the methods described below.   See also Freezing Herbs.

Some Generic Tips

Individual Herb Uses

Lemon Balm
1. Chop some lemon balm and mint leaves together and freeze them into ice cubes to serve with lemonade or iced tea.

2. Add chopped lemon balm to any green or fruit salad with an oil and vinegar dressing.

1. Sprinkle minced over a roast of lamb.

2. Marinate lamb cubes for shishkebobs for an hour in rosemary vinegar with a bit of crushed garlic.

3. Slip a sprig under the skin of chicken before grilling or roasting.

1. Wrap sorrel leaves around fish scallops and steam 3-4 minutes. Serve with a lime butter sauce.

2. Keep a chiffonade (minced leaves, stems and coarse midribs removed) cooked with a little unsalted butter in refrigerator for use in soups, sauces, or as toppings for baked potato, greens, or poached fish. Or, puree and freeze for later use. Add at last minute of cooking to retain green color.

3.  Sorrel is a cool-weather perennial and, with the right weather conditions, will mature when  spring lettuce is available.  Use sparingly in early season salads , stir fried dishes, and seafood sauces.

1. This cook's favorite use is to preserve in herbal vinegar and use with some water for steaming fresh greens.

2. Puree handful of tarragon with a fat shallot, some oil (walnut, if you have it) and white wine vinegar, some orange zest and freshly squeezed orange juice. Serve sauce with pork or lamb.

3. Add chopped tarragon to fresh lemon juice, garlic and olive oil and marinate fish (firm-fleshed, like halibut, salmon, haddock, or redfish) for up to 3 hours.

4. Add chopped tarragon to stuffed eggs.

1. Mix a few sprigs with some rosemary, sprinkle over small or quartered potatoes (skin on) and some garlic, and fry in some olive oil, and cook covered till done. Uncover for browning.  Or,  sprinkle potatoes with herbs and some olive oil and bake in a 375 oven till fork-tender (about 25 minutes).

2. Thyme is good in au gratin dishes, with eggs, cooked with butternut squash, and in many sauces.

3.  For a creole or cajun seasoning , thyme is an essential ingredient!

Herb Teas

When the Boston Tea Party left black tea floating in the Boston harbor, colonists turned to herbal teas, naming them liberty teas.  Use 1 T fresh or 1 t dried herbs for each cup of boiling water and should be steeped for 3-5 minutes before straining.   Creasy and Saville recommend rinsing the teapot first with boiling water.   Their Chamomile Tisane calls for crushing a couple thin slices of apple before adding the herbs and water. German Chamomile has an apple scent and is used as a nerve and sleep tonic. Other ideas from their cookbook:  strawberries and orange juice with spearmint, lavender with freshly squeezed lemon juice.