Making Full Use of Herbs

I have an extensive array of herbs growing in our garden. They thrive! Every now and then I pick some for a salad, or for a dish I’m creating but I never seem to totally use what grows at prolific rates! So as an advocate for sustainable living, I have a trick up my sleeve for using up herbs before the cold winters come and reduce them to blackened stubs. There are several methods for using up herbs;

– Drying

– Pesto mixes

– Salt mixes

– Herb oils

Let me explain each one in it’s beautiful simplicity:

Drying….

Collect herb leaves when they are dry (not after a rain shower, or early morning dew) and lay them flat on an oven tray or dehydrator trays. I have dried herbs on a tray, in the hot water cylinder cupboard, just remember to turn them every second day. They can be dried in a very low oven but my preferred method is the dehydrator. My second hand $20 dehydrator does a fabulous job and if the leaves are thin, drying takes about 2 to 3 hours before you can bag or bottle them for later use.

Dried herbs can also be blended in a coffee grinder, to make a powdered version of the herb. I grind my stevia, rosemary’ (much more cooking friendly in this powdered form, no tough bits of rosemary to extricate from your mouth!) sage and thyme.

Stevia Leaves in the Dehydrator

Pesto Mixes……

Just about any herbs will do for pesto mixes, I have even made a rosemary pesto before! Simply gather your fresh herb leaves, about 2 cups, place in a blender and add 1/2 cup olive oil, salt and 1/2 cup nuts of choice. Feta cheese or Parmesan can be added if you want a cheesy zing, but bear in mind it only lasts about a week in the fridge. If you want your pesto to last longer, leave the cheese out. It’s lovely spread thinly on sandwiches or crackers, or mixed through pasta dishes.

Parsley Tofu Pesto

Basil Feta Pesto

Salt mixes….

Dry herb leaves (a 1 cup blend can be used) and hand crush them before you mix into about 2 cups Himalayan (pink) salt. Place in bottles or condiment jar. My famous Mediterranean Blend includes marjoram, rosemary, parsley and sage. Try different blends. Salt mixes make great gifts.

My Mediterranean Salt Blends

Herb Oil Paste….

Blend fresh leaves in olive oil (or oil of choice) till you have a thick green “pesto-like” paste. This will keep for ages in glass jars in the fridge. I like to make a basil oil and when needing that basil flavour in Winter, simply dig out a teaspoon of oil-preserved basil. Yum! Transports the senses to Instant Summer Flavours!

In other words, it’s a case of Use them or Lose them! Quick! There’s still time before Winter descends on us! Get preserving!

Summer Grown Dried Herb Packages make Great Gifts

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