Reader Recipe: Sauces for All Seasons

by Lauren Hill

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herb butter

In late summer, housewives used to get very nervous about what they had “put back” to feed their families during the winter. Supermarkets have solved most of the end-of-harvest jitters, but there’s still something special about saving the last of summer. Freezing rather than canning lessens cooking time, reduces needed sugar and keeps more of ingredients’ fresh taste. Here are several sauces, a couple of them keepers, to let your family enjoy the waning freshness of summer and the bounty of fall.

Herb Topping

In the old days of dairy-fat-heavy meals, herb butters were a wonderful way to save garden bounty and a quick way to brighten broiled chicken, fish and baked or boiled potatoes. Instead of herb butters, try the following lighter toppings. Keep extra in the freezer, modern day’s answer to the root cellar and canning cupboard. Many frozen herbs darken with freezing, but the taste excels that of dried herbs.

Gather or buy enough fresh herbs to make 1/2 cup, chopped. Mix and match to create depth of flavor. Some good mixtures are:

  • Chives, parsley and rosemary
  • Dill and scallions
  • Thyme, mint and parsley
  • Basil and chives
  • Cilantro, parsley and garlic
  • Sage, grated lemon peel and garlic
  • Oregano and coarse black pepper
  • Or pick whatever your garden grows!


  • 1/2 cup fresh herbs, chopped
  • 1 cup plain yogurt, preferably Greek, regular, low-fat or fat-free
  • 1/2 cup low-fat or fat-free mayonnaise

Cooking Directions

  1. In a large bowl, stir to blend the yogurt and mayonnaise. Add chopped herbs and stir gently to mix evenly.
  2. Line a cookie sheet or brownie pan with waxed paper. Scoop the mixture in teaspoonfuls onto the pan, leaving spaces between mounds. Freeze, remove from pan and pack in a covered freezer container or sealed plastic bag. Remove from the freezer when you start dinner; warm food will melt your thawed herb topping.

Fruit Sauce for Meat


  • 2 cups thinly sliced or chopped unpeeled summer stone fruit; peaches, nectarines, plums
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of sugar or honey
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. whole mustard seed

Cooking Directions

  1. In a 2 quart saucepan, combine all of the ingredients.
  2. Simmer until fruit is tender; sauce will be somewhat liquid. Package in 1/2 cup freezer containers. Add a container to the baking pan for chicken parts or pork chops or serve warm over broiled meats. Make this chutney-related sauce with apples when good stone fruit is no longer available.

Slam Jam

Before the berry season ends, make this quick freezer “jam” to serve on pancakes or spoon over vanilla ice cream during the winter.


  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 1 pint raspberries
  • 2 pints strawberries, sliced
  • 1 8-oz package frozen blackberries
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • A few mint leaves, chopped

Cooking Directions

  • In a 2 to 3-quart saucepan heat to a boil: apple juice, lemon juice, mint leaves and sugar. Add all the fruit and return the mixture to a low boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, till berries are cooked through. Package in 1-cup freezer containers and bring the taste of summer back to your table.

Got a healthy recipe that you’d like to share? Head over to our Submit a Recipe page!

Image Credit: Herb Butter photo via Shutterstock

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