Other than drying or freezing them, another way to use fresh herbs to create delicious herbal taste into the colder months when we may not have as hearty a harvest available (although window herb planters are kind of cool for winter-fresh herbs.
As Kelli Best-Oliver wrote earlier this week in her ‘five cool things to do with herbs’, making herb-flavored vinegars is pretty easy. She suggests heating the vinegar slightly. I’ve never done that, but it seems like a good idea!
I usually use white wine, white balsamic or champaign vinegars for these. My current favorite (and the one people are getting for x-mas this year) is tarragon vinegar, which of course makes an awesome bernaise sauce (always served at our traditional McWilliams family Christmas eve dinners).
I just pick nice sprigs of tarragon, wash and dry thoroughly and put them (still on the stem) in a nice glass bottle with a cork and store in a dark place. The vinegar should preserve (or actually pickle) anything that is in it, so there shouldn’t be any worries about it going bad within a few months anyway. Certain herbs, like basil will want to be chopped a bit to release the flavors more.
Herbs Commonly Used for Vinegars
Of course, this is a very similar process although I usually strain the herbs out of the oil after a 3 week to one-month infusion. The flavor stays, but the oil will stay better longer without the herbs. Of course you can get pretty creative w/ these oils and use hot peppers, pepper corns, pepper flakes (okay, I’ve got a hot pepper thing going here). You get the idea.
Basil-Garlic Olive-Flaxseed Oil
My current favorite oil recipe that I’ve been making all summer long is an easy and healthy one. I wash, dry and coarsely chop a handful of basil; peel and quarter 2 – 3 garlic cloves; mix 1/2 & 1/2 of organic olive oil and organic flaxseed oil. Put it all in a glass container in the refrigerator for 2 – 3 weeks. Then, I strain and put in a glass oil bottle. NOTE: Because it includes flaxseed oil – DO NOT cook with it, and keep it in the fridge to keep it fresher longer.
This is great in salad dressings or to make yummy bread dipping sauce, etc.
Dr. Cathy’s Yummy Herb Tahini Dressing
My dear friend Cathy Ostroff, chiropractor, homeopath and nutritional counselor shared this recipe with me recently.
Equal parts Oil (try above!) & white balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic
pinch dry mustard
2 T tahini
Various fresh herbs: oregano, tarragon, parsley, basil
1 t tamari