Sunday, September 8, 2019

HERBAL HARVEST CLASS

Preserving herbs was the theme for this class as we considered 4 general techniques to create herbal products that can be used year round. Each session included information and hands on techniques plus tasting of recipes that used the products created.  The classes also included the following tips for harvest and storage:
  • Gather in the morning (11am) – after the dew has dried but before the sun gets hot
  • Herb flavors are generally strongest just as the flower buds appear, but before they are fully open
  • Pick healthy growth & discard damaged leaves
  • Wash in cold salt water and dry herbs before preserving 
  • Always store dried herbs as whole as possible and only crush when ready to use
  • Always store in airtight container in a cool, dry place away from sunlight
  • Keep leaves 1 year to 18 months, seeds 2 years


Session 1: DRYING
  • Hang dry long stemmed herbs: gather bouquet of 5-8 stems, tie ends together with rubber band and hang upside down in a shady place with good air circulation
  • Hang dry seed heads: gather and tie then place in a brown paper bag with ventilation holes for 2-4 weeks
  • Screen dry small herbs, leaves: old window screen, sweater dryer or cheesecloth stretched over a picture frame.  Strip leaves, lay on dryer and protect from sun in a well ventilated area
  • Oven: place leaves on trays in 100-150 degree oven for 3-4 hours with the door ajar – check frequently
  • Food Dehydrator: place leaves on trays and follow instructions for drying
  • Sugar can be combined or layered with herbs to dry
  • Salt removes moisture from leaves to preserve

Grilled Chicken Salad with Garlic Herb Salt
GARLIC HERB SALT: Wash & dry 1/2c basil, 1/4c rosemary, and 1/4c oregano.  Let rest overnight. Peel and chop 1 head of garlic then put into a food processor.  Add the herbs a little at a time until they are chopped fine. Slowly add 1Tbs pepper and 24-48oz sea salt.  The salt will begin to dry out the herb paste. When it is mostly dry and a suitable size, spread onto waxed paper covered cookie sheet and let dry overnight in oven with oven light on.  Store in airtight container. 
Uses: Sprinkle on meats before grilling/baking
Use instead of salad dressing
Sprinkle on oiled veggies before roasting
Use as a seasoned salt on cooked foods


Session 2: FREEZING
  • Chives, dill, marjoram, mints, oregano, parsley, sage, thyme and tarragon can be frozen in small packets to use as needed or whole leaves can be frozen on a baking sheet.  Place in small plastic bags – seal and label. Add whatever you need, unthawed, for cooking.
  • Herbs can be combined in blender/food processor with oil, then frozen in ice cube trays.  Good for mixtures such as pesto.
  • Herbs can be covered with boiling water, let steep 5 mins and then freeze in ice cube trays.  Good for mixtures for soups, juices and sauces.
  • Freeze mint and edible flowers in containers filled with water for decorative ice cubes or punch bowls.
  • Freeze combination seasoning mixes. Example: for stuffling chopped onions, celery and herbs like parsley, sage, marjoram, savory & thyme.  Thaw and add to bread cubes when ready to stuff the bird.
  • Make pesto and freeze in ice cube trays, then store in freezer bag to use in off season - add a cube to soups, stews, sauces or recipes.
  • Make sorbets with fruit or simple syrup and herbs for a first course, part of a weekend brunch, or a light and refreshing ending for summer meals
  • Create butter by combining with herbs and freeze in individual servings to add to veggies, top grilled meat or melt into sauces

Caprese Pesto Pasta Salad
BASIC BASIL PESTO: Place 2c basil leaves and 2 cloves crushed garlic in food processor/blender until leaves are finely chopped. Add 1/2c pine nuts until finely chopped. With the machine running, add 3/4c extra-virgin olive oil in a slow, steady stream and then add 3/4c freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, salt and pepper to taste. If not using immediately, store in an air-tight container with a thin coating of olive oil on top to keep sauce from turning dark. Pesto will keep in refrigerator for a few days or freeze in ice cube trays.
Caprese Pesto Pasta Salad - Cook 2 cups small pasta until tender yet firm and cool. Mix together 3Tbs pesto, 1Tbs olive oil, 1/4tsp GARLIC HERB SALT, and 1/2tsp balsamic vinegar in a bowl. Add pasta and toss to coat. Fold in 1c halved grape tomatoes, 1c fresh small mozzarella balls, and chopped fresh basil. Chill in the fridge until ready to eat.


GARDEN HERB BUTTER: Combine 1/2c butter, 1Tbs minced parsley, ½ tsp fresh thyme, ½ tsp snipped chives and 1/4 tsp minced garlic until well mixed in a quart size bag.  Cut corner and squeeze into container to refrigerate or individual serving to freeze. Use to make garlic bread or top grilled steak!



Session 3: INFUSING
  • Process of steeping (soaking) herbs in heated liquid until absorbs the oils and flavors
  • Draws out vitamins, enzymes, and aromatic volatile oils
  • Typically use roots, shoots, leaves, and flowers of the plant
  • Herbs are either covered with heated liquid or heated in the liquid
  • Simple syrups can be made by heating equal amounts of sugar and water, then adding herbs and steeping 30 mins.
  • Make herbal honey or oil by heating herbs in honey/oil and then straining
  • Herbs can enhance jelly recipes by infusing in juice or they can be added to prepared jelly
  • Herb vinegars can use white or rice wine vinegar with dill, purple basil, tarragon, chervil & shallots for use on delicate greens or red wine vinegar with robust herbs like rosemary, sage & oregano to use on pungent greens



GARLIC PEPPER JELLY: Melt 2 (16oz) jars apply jelly over low heat stirring often. Add 1Tbs pressed garlic, 2Tbs parsley flakes and 1/2tsp chili pepper flakes and 4tsp white wine vinegar then pour into jars and water-process for 10 mins. or into freezer containers and freeze up to 6 months.
Easy Holiday Appetizer: Serve GARLIC PEPPER JELLY over a block of cream cheese with assorted crackers!

BASIC HERB VINEGAR: Heat 2c (5% acidity) vinegar in a small saucepan but DO NOT BOIL
or it can be heated in microwave for 1 min.  Place 1/2c herbs/spice & options (citrus peel, garlic)
in a sterile glass canning jar, cover with plastic wrap, add lid and store in dark location for 2-3
weeks, shaking jar daily.  Strain vinegar, put into sterilized bottle and seal.
CINNAMON VINEGAR: 2c white wine vinegar, 3” Cinnamon stick
Peach-Basil Salad: Combine 6 sliced peaches with 1c halved cherry tomatoes, 1/4c thinly
sliced red onion.  Combine 1Tbs CINNAMON VINEGAR, 1Tbs honey and 1/4tsp salt and
add to peach mixture.  Top with 8 thin sliced basil leaves and 1/2c crumbled feta cheese.

Peach-Basil Salad


Session 4: BLENDING
  • Dried herb blends add salt-free flavor to nearly any dish
  • Herb blends are about your own personal taste and preference. Don't be afraid to experiment!
  • To get the most flavor from your blends, rub them between your fingers as you add them to a dish to release their essential oils and fragrance.
  • If you're giving them as a gift, include a recipe or two

Shredded Beef, Cranberry-Pecan Chicken Salad, Garlicky Feta Dip
FISHERMAN’S CHOICE
Adds a lemony herbal touch to fish and seafood
4Tbs dill weed
1Tbs thyme
2tsp tarragon
1tsp lemon zest

Fisherman’s Choice Spread: Combine 8oz softened cream cheese, 1 can drained
salmon/water-packed tuna and 1Tbs FISHERMAN”S CHOICE and chill at least 3 hours.

BEST FOR BEEF

Brings out the best in crock-pot recipes and roasted meats
2Tbs parsley
1Tbs rosemary
1Tbs savory
1Tbs thyme
2 tsp garlic
1 tsp ground pepper

Crock Pot Shredded Beef: Put a 3-4lb browned beef roast, 1Tbs BEST FOR BEEF,
salt & pepper, 1 thinly sliced sweet onion and 1/4c beef broth in crock pot, cover and
cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 4-5. Remove the beef to cut or shred and return
to the crock pot. Stir and serve on crusty buns.

POULTRY PLUS
Great for use on baked poultry plus casseroles and stuffing
2Tbs sage
2Tbs thyme
1Tbs marjoram
1Tbs tarragon

Cranberry-Pecan Chicken Salad:  Combine 2c cooked chicken, 2/3c chopped
celery, 1/2c dried cranberries, 1/2c toasted pecans, 1 tsp POULTRY PLUS, and 1/2c
mayonnaise. Chill for several hours or overnight to let flavors blend.

VEGGIES & MORE
A traditional delicate seasoning for veggies plus eggs & cheese
2Tbs parsley
1Tbs onion
1Tbs garlic
1Tbs dill
1Tbs chives

Garlicky Feta Dip: Combine 6oz crumbled feta, 4oz cream cheese, 1/3c Greek yogurt,
1Tbs VEGGIES & MORE, and 1Tbs lemon juice in a food processor or blender. When
well-combined, season to taste and refrigerate.  To serve, top with chopped tomato,
pinch of crushed red pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.

SWEET SPICE
A classic spice blend for all seasons
2Tbs cinnamon
1Tbs nutmeg
1Tbs ginger
2tsp cloves, allspice, cardamom

Pumpkin Butter: Combine 1-15oz can pumpkin, 1Tbs SWEET SPICE and 1c brown
sugar in a pan. Cook slowly for 15 mins but do not let it boil.  Cool & refrigerate or freeze.

"Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. 
I have given you all things, even as the green herbs.”
Genesis 9:3