While the triple digit temps, don’t show any indication that summer is winding down, the calendar, as well as the sight of school busses rolling through neighborhoods is a clear sign that the lazy days of summer won’t be with us for much longer.
Because of my realization horror of this, I am squeezing in as many summer-y things as possible before I wake up and it is pitch black outside at 5:00, at NIGHT! (Man, if I was waking up at 5:00pm I am sure I have bigger issues at hand than just the fact summer is over!)
One thing that I’ll miss about summer, besides the pool, long nights, and more sno-cones than I can count, is all the fresh summer foods; fruit, veggies and fresh herbs!
If you still have fresh herbs thriving in your garden or happen to pick some up at the grocery store or farmer’s market, be sure and read this article I wrote for meal planning/recipe site Food on the Table, with cooking, storage, and growing tips for fresh herbs. Also be sure and check out all the recipes at the bottom of this article from around the web that use fresh herbs!
For many, cooking with fresh herbs is easy and effortless, while others struggle with basic herb knowledge. However, fresh herbs can add a bounty of flavor to sweet and savory dishes, which simply cannot be obtained from their dried counterparts.
Below are several tips on how to use fresh herbs in everyday cooking.
Grow your own:
Having a garden can be intimidating; but maintaining an herb garden is quite manageable and will provide the freshest herbs possible. While, planting herbs directly from seeds is the cheapest route, this time of year many grocery stores sell sprouting herb plants for mere dollars that simply need to be replanted.
When purchasing packaged or loose herbs, look for herbs that are vibrant in color and aroma. Avoid herbs that are limp, yellow in color, or contain dark spots.
Loosely wrap herbs in a damp paper towel, place in a plastic zip-top bag and store in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. If stored in this fashion, herbs will keep for 6-7 days. Use caution if freezing fresh herbs, as freezing can cause them to blacken and become slimy. For best results, hard herbs, such as rosemary or thyme, can be frozen as is in freezer safe packaging. While soft herbs, such as cilantro or basil, should be washed and chopped, then frozen in ice cube trays filled with water.
Wash herbs only when ready to use, as extra moisture will cause herbs to age quickly. To wash herbs, place them in a large bowl of cool water and shake them around. After washing, dry herbs using a salad spinner or simply pat dry with a paper towel.
Herbs should be chopped right before using. Strong, hard herbs, such as marjoram and thyme, should be added at the beginning of cooking as they can withstand long cooking times. Tender herbs, such as parsley or cilantro, should be added at the end of cooking or simply used as a garnish. In general, avoid using the woody stems of herbs; however, when making soups or stocks, stems can withstand the long cooking process and add extra flavor, but should be removed before serving.
Get cookin’ with fresh herbs and try one of these recipes below!
Cilantro Lime Rice (Kitchen Concoctions)
Iced Green Tea Mojito (Skinny Taste)
Marinated Tomato Salad (Kitchen Concoctions)
Cauliflower, Thyme and Green Tea Cream Soup (Zizi’s Adventures)
Tomato Basil Orzo Salad with Lemon Garlic Vinaigrette (Kitchen Concoctions)
5 Minute Lemon Basil Guacamole Dip (New Nostalgia)
Classic Pesto Sauce (Kitchen Concoctions)
Almond and Rosemary Shortbread Cookies (London Bakes)
Sassy Spa Water (Kitchen Concoctions)
Minty Watermelon Soda Floats (How Sweet It Is)