You are not going to believe how simple this is............keep reading..............
At this time of the year many of us are considering the best ways to preserve all the abundance of produce we have in our gardens. This applies to herbs which are plentiful in my garden. I like to keep as many as I can to get me through the winter months especially with all the great slow-cooking we tend to do for our comfort food fix.
It got me thinking about the way I buy herbs in the winter and I remembered those tubes and jars of herb pastes in the supermarkets and shops? I make pesto all the time, so it got me wondering what it would be like to try a few more of my herbs as a paste. The added bonus is knowing that any paste I make will not contain preservatives, additives or unnecessary sugar.
Making herb paste
To make the pastes, it is a really simple ratio:
Place these two simple ingredients in your food processor and they only need a quick whizz to achieve a lovely looking paste.
I recommend the extra-virgin olive oil as the flavour works really well with your herbs.
Which herbs work best this way?
The tender fresh herbs such as chives, parsley, coriander, basil, celery for cutting and sorrel, for example, do keep their flavour well when dried, but they are perfect for making pastes.
You could try the woodier herbs such as sage, thyme, oregano too but it is best to strip the leaves from their stems before putting in the processor.
Freezing your herbs
By creating a paste, the herbs retain a better flavour and colour. Fresh pastes can be put in the fridge to use within a couple of weeks but if you are unable to use them all, they're now in a format which freezes well. Create portions that are suitable for your cooking by using small containers or air-tight plastic bags.
You can freeze in ice cube trays and empty into plastic bags once frozen to use cubes as required. Another really easy method is to spread the paste 1-2cm thick on some baking paper on a flat tray. Portion into squares with a pizza cutter or knife, then put in the freezer until frozen. Once frozen you can then snap the portions apart and put in plastic bags or container in the freezer. Personally, I like this method best as there is less mess to clean up!
Defrost them to use within 3-4 months - See below for suggested usage.
In the past, I have frozen my herbs in ice cubes or in a plastic bag, but they tend to discolour and breakdown with the ice crystals. When I defrost them, they are mushy and only good for casseroles or soups. This is particularly so with the tender leaved herbs such as basil or coriander. The woodier herbs mentioned above seem to fare better when frozen.
Some Uses for your Herb Pastes
- Spread on steak, chicken or pork before or after cooking
- Add to casseroles, stews and soups
- Mix into your breadcrumbs
- Add to your bread dough
- Mix into your mayonnaise or dressing
- Add to fritter batter
- Spread on pizza, bread or pastry
Mixed Herb Paste
Here is a really easy recipe for combining fresh herbs for a tasty meld of flavours.
1/3 cup flat leaf Parsley
1 cup Coriander
2 tablespoons Tarragon
2 tablespoons Dill
2 tablespoons Mint
6 tablespoons Olive Oil (to start with)
1. Chop all herbs roughly
2. Place all ingredients in food processor
3. Process until smooth, adding more oil as necessary
Enjoy your herb pastes.