Monday, August 17, 2015

Week of Tips I Love: Tip #1- Herb Bombs... Or, How to Use Fresh Herbs All Year

Hey there! Welcome to a week full of tips I love... little things that make my life easier and better! This week I'll be featuring some of my favorite quick, simple projects anyone can do to make baby steps to improve our homes and our health. (Also this week, a kitchen update. Promise!) But first up: Tip I Love #1: Herb Bombs.

Here's the goal: to preserve fresh herbs we grow or buy so we can use them hassle-free all year long. In order to accomplish this, I started freezing these bite-size herb portions so I could toss them in all kinds of recipes: soups, stews, breads, sauces, pasta... there are so many options! The best part? The herbs are already clean, chopped, and ready to use. If you're someone who uses fresh herbs- or wants to start- these are for you.

And plus, I did say quick and easy, right? Let's get started...

First, get some herbs.  Since we moved this summer, I grew this basil and these chives in pots. Super simple. If you're not the growing kind, hit up the farmers market or produce section of your local store. Look for herbs that are vibrant green and strong on their stems... i.e. not wilted, curled, or damaged. Then get your herbs into the kitchen, rinse gently in a sink of cool water, and lay out on a clean towel to dry.

Then start chopping. I began with my chives, and chopped them up into 1/4 inch long pieces. For the basil, I tore the leaves into small pieces. Then I put roughly 1 Tablespoon of herbs into wells in a freezable tray:

This is my Herb Freezing Tray Set from Pampered Chef, which I lurrrrve. I got these because I make and cook with a lot of these herb bombs, and these trays make them super easy! If you want one, holler at me and I can get you hooked up. BUT. Ice trays work great. Don't feel like you have to go out and get a fancy little set when your regular ice tray will also do the trick. Your call.

Anyway. The goal is to get about 1 Tablespoon of chopped herbs into each little well. Once you've done that, fill your tray with enough water to cover the herbs. Check to make sure that most of the herbs are covered with water, then pop in the freezer for several hours (over overnight) to let them set up.

Once your tray of herb bombs is frozen, pop those beauties out, seal in a freezer bag, label it, and stash it in the freezer until you're ready to cook. That's all there is to it! Next time your recipe calls for 1 Tablespoon of herbs, you'll be ready! Simply thaw your herb bomb cube (if you don't want the water in your recipe), or throw the cubes in whole. Yes. Wow. So much easier than washing and chopping herbs every time you need them!

I make herb bombs with all my favorite herbs: basil, chives, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, and thyme. I even do blends: my Italian herb bomb has basil, oregano, and parsley. I add it to pasta dishes and sauces. My standard Soup herb bomb has chives, rosemary and thyme and it goes into most of my soups. So good!

If you want to be totally adventurous, take the herb bomb further and freeze your herbs with extra goodies like minced garlic, chopped onion, or freshly cracked pepper. Or freeze them in olive oil. Yum! Or... try mixing chives and parsley in softened butter, spooning into your tray, and refrigerating until firm. I try to keep Butter Herb Bombs on hand for baked potatoes and bread. (They never stay around long. Ever. Can't keep those in stock!)

So. To review, we can have it all: fresh herbs, all year long, ready to cook when we are. Try today's tip and let me know how it works in your kitchen. I trust you'll start loving these as much as we do!  -Brin


joanne said...

This sounds like such a great idea . I can't wait to hit up the farmers market this weekend and give this a try . Looking forward to your next tip.

LynnGail said...
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April@MySacredSojourn said...

What a great idea! I always try to use up my basil before the first frost, but this is a much better idea than gorging on it for a week!

Kathi said...

Thank you for this idea, Brin. I will certainly try it. I have many herbs that got to waste in the fall. I want to preserve as many as possible, so this is great. Kathi

Adrienne said...

Thank you! I've often wondered how to keep the flavor of fresh herbs around through the seasons. I'm going to get busy and do this!