Freezing Herbs in Olive Oil

The aromas of fall elate this warm, fuzzy feeling that seems to linger within my soul… I want to hunker down somewhat, but the gardener in me refuses to let go of my love.  The plants are telling me by their exasperated appearance that they’re ready to call it a season…

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“Farewell, our garden matron, it’s been a great year Jean, but now we must depart… see you in the spring!”  I wrestle with this and fight it because deep down in my lonely soul of winter days, I can’t bear the thought of the winter world that will all to soon envelope everything I love.

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So in efforts to capture and hold on…  I ‘put-up’.

I can.

I freeze.

I dry.

I preserve.

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All winter long I can go to the freezer, cupboards and can shelves and remember the feeling of the prickly leaves of zucchini as I carefully reached in and took hold of her bountiful beauty.

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I can look at the jars of salsa and reminisce of summer days strolling through the hoop house and gazing over the Heirloom tomatoes heavy with their colorful fruits.

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Bringing up a jar of vegetable soup and tomato juice… blending their beauties together in a kettle and slowly warming up for all my loved ones. This rich, romantic aroma wafting through our home… but best of all… “Oh mom… that smells sooooo good!” That’s my reward.

Fall.

Harvest.

Food.

Life is good on the farm.

Herbs are such a blessing to any kitchen and as I’ve been showing, extremely easy to preserve. For those of us whose winter months don’t allow for growing, we are able to enjoy the fruits of our labor by preserving.

Here I am harvesting basil

Here I am harvesting basil

Here’s a step-by-step super easy way to freeze your garden herbs in olive oil.  You can use this technique with any herb or combination of herbs.

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STEP 1: Using a 12 compartment cupcake tin, cut 12 squares of plastic wrap to fit into each hole. Be sure they’re large enough
to come up over the rims at least 1 1/2″.
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STEP 2: Filling only one hole at a time, place plastic wrap and press in; Take 1 Tbsp. of herb and place in hole.

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STEP 3: Carefully pour olive oil into hole, filling until level with tin.

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STEP 4: Repeat process until all holes are filled.  Place in freezer for 48 hours to allow oil to completely solidify.

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STEP 5: Lift each ‘puck’ up; if they stick a bit, carefully use the tip of a knife to help it pop out.

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STEP 6: Quickly remove plastic and place them all in a large freezer bag.  It is fine that the herbs and oil separated.

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STEP 7: Store in freezer and enjoy all winter long! Yum!

How to use you herbed oil pucks:
*Toss them into cooked, drained pasta.
*Let thaw in a bowl and use in a pasta salad… yummy fresh herb flavor with that white stuff on the ground.
*Toss in with a stir fry.
*Use to sauté meat for fajitas in.
*Thaw and brush on a roast before putting in the oven.
*Use when frying potatoes for home fries.
… and of course, like I always say, the uses are only limited by your imagination!

You can also do these in ice cube trays, but for my size family… that’s kinda’ funny 😉
Happy Day,
Jean

Garlic-Thyme Infused Olive Oil

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I love to preserve my garden bounty as much as I love to garden and write! Whether it’s putting the good things in the freezer, on the can shelves or drying for the pantry, I relish in the accomplishment!

I thought I’d share my yummy Garlic-Thyme Infused Olive oil recipe with you today…

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Ingredients:

Pint mason/canning jar
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4-6 fresh cloves garlic to mince
1/2 cup thyme leaves
1 Tbsp. sea salt
Double ingredients except salt if you want to do a quart jar.

DPP_0006Method:
1. Fill your jar with oil leaving 1″ of head space

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2. Take your fresh picked thyme and start striping the leaves into the oil until you have about 1/2 cup worth

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3. Mince garlic into oil.  Add salt

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4. Stir all ingredients until well blended. Leave in a cupboard out of direct sunlight for about a week before you use it. This will allow the flavors to blend.

Now that you have your yummy oil ready, here are some idea’s on how to use it!

*Brush on bread before you broil or toast it for Brushetta
*Brush on any veggie that you want to grill… this is our favorite for zucchini and yellow squash.
*Toss into pasta instead of sauce

… these are just a couple of my personal faves… do you have any idea’s?  If you do, please leave a comment here and share… be sure to come on over to my Facebook page and give it a like… we have lots of fun there!

Happy Day,
Jean

Make a Blooming Chair, How To Make Herbed Vinegars & Oils and Recipes!

Beautiful dill can be added not just to dishes
but also in bouquest

 Flowers are bursting open everywhere and the fledglings are leaving the nest… young robins are hopping all over the garden eating creepy crawlies and enjoying being out of the nest… glorious, glorious summer!  The fields are starting to bear and the harvest will soon be coming on heavily… that means ‘puttin’ up time is just around the corner.  Of course we’ve been busy with rhubarb and now strawberries are ripe for the pickin’ and that means the yummiest jam of all…  Strawberries scare me though… that is growing them. They are really the only ‘garden’ fruit I don’t grow. The runners and weeding they require have never tempted me… until this year! I think I have figured a way to keep them… I will blog more on this next week, so keep watching.  Today we’ll stick with more herb stuff and of course some garden junque too! Enjoy and thanks for comin’ over!

Blooming chairs you ask… I am all about big & beautiful now with certain things. I am sure you have all seen those cute chairs that have potted flowers growing right out of the seat. I just love them, and of course I have some.  Here is the simple ‘how to’ to make your own.
Step 1~ If you don’t have  an old chair already, you can easily find one at any thrift store, antique shop or flea market.  If you can find one that has a cane seat you are doing great, because this will make your job all the more easy.
Step 2~ remove the caning from the chair seat to make an open hole where your container can be placed.
Step 3~ I would simply go to a nursery and purchase an already big and beautiful hanging basket- be sure it will fit in your seat hole… take it home and put her in! Presto, instant blooming chair…
* to make it cuter if you can by chance see the pot it’s in, put it in an old tin bucket!
… of course if you want to plant your own, do just that.
        

Notice the chair in the forground… I purchased
a patunia hanging basket, transfered into an old
tin bucket and then placed in seat hole.  I also
just put pots on top of chairs as you can see the
potted geranium in a tin bucket on the chair on
my front porch.  Have Fun!

Herbed Vinegars & Oils can be made quite easily and inexpensively, especially when you are growing your own herbs. For those who love to grill or roast, or have salads often,  you will find that having these oils & vinegars on hand to be a real treat… and what a way to wow your guests.  Here is the ‘how to’ and some ideas on different combinations…

**How to make Herbed Vinegars~
You can use the leaves, seeds and flowers, singly or in combinations of freshly picked herbs to make herbed vinegars.  The vinegar should be the best of the cider or wine varieties available, as herbs will not disguise the sharpness of a bad vinegar.
1. Pick the herbs for the vinegar in the morning after the dew has dried but before the heat of day has driven off some of the essential oils that give herbs their flavor.  Use only perfect leaves and flowers, discarding any that have tuned brown or show signs of having been eaten by garden pests.
2. Bruise the herbs slightly before putting them in a glass bottle or ceramic crock with a tightly fitting top.  Use about 1/2 cup of herbs for each pint (2cups) of vinegar, more if you want a stronger taste.
3. Then follow one of these two traditional methods:
  ~A. Pour the vinegar over the herbs in a clear glass bottle and close tightly.  Set the bottle in a sunny window for two weeks, turning it frequently.
  ~B. Heat the vinegar; then pour the hot vinegar over the herbs in a bottle or crock and close tightly.  Let steep overnight.
  Whichever method you use, you may want to strain and re-bottle the vinegar at the end of the steeping time, adding a fresh, unbruised sprig for decoration.  This is a matter of aesthetics- a choice between one simple spring in the bottle or the generous bunch of herbs used to flavor the vinegar.

**HOW to make Herbed Oils~

Herbed oils can be as simple or as complex as you like.  To make you own, simply add the desired herbs and spices to the oil (olive oil is best, but you can also use a good vegetable oil) and steep in a closed bottle or container in a warm but not hot place for a few weeks before using.  

 Here are some yummy combo’s for you try now that you have the ‘how to’s’….
~Vinegar idea’s:
*Tarragon is most common alone~ or add lemon thyme, basil, chive blossoms, burnet work well in salads
*Burnet and borage~ add borage flowers to white vinegar and it will tint it a lovely pale blue while giving it a subtle cucumber flavor…
*Dill with whole seed head intact ~ add a bit of lemon and garlic for delicious variety
*Mint for lamb dishes and fruit salads
*lemon thyme for fish
*Basil for tomatoes ~ add borage and burnet for a yummy twist
*sage for marinating rich meats and fowl
*chive blossoms for a faint oniony flavor
*nasturtium buds, flowers and leaves for a lovely peppery flavor
*oregano, fennel and garlic
*lemon thyme and garlic
*raspberry leaves and lemon balm… yummy for a salad
*and of course garlic… for everything!

~Oil idea’s:
*Thyme and rosemary make a quick pasta oil to toss the noodles with
*garlic, chili peppers, rosemary and thyme make for a yummy barbeque oil that is wonderful to marinade and baste your grilled meats
*Peppermint, garlic, cumin, coriander, cloves, mace and fennel adds a taste of the Middle East
*Thyme alone is wonderful to brush on veggies for the grill and chicken
*Fennel and garlic are yummy on fish
*garlic, thyme and a bit of sage go well with grilled veggies

You know what you like… so be daring and try new things with all your wonderful herbs!

**Taken and Adapted from, Herbs, Gardens, Decorations, and Recipes, by Emelie Tolley and Chris Mead, published by Clarkson N. Potter, Inc./Publishers, 1985

Here are some yummy recipe’s to try… 

Spiced Vinegar
3″ cinnamon stick
1 whole cracked nutmeg
4 cup red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. whole cloves
1 Tbsp. allspice
1 Tbsp. black peppercorns

*Follow instructions above; let steep 4 weeks in a cool place; when ready strain the mixture and bottle. Store in a cool, dark space.

Rose Petal Vinegar
3 cup white wine vinegar
1 rose bud to place in bottle
5 cup rose petal, lightly crushed

*Follow instruction above; steep 4 weeks in cool place; when ready strain the mixture and bottle. Store in a cool, dark space.

Cucumber Dill Sauce
1 cup water
1 cup organic raw sugar
1 Tbsp. sea salt
1/3 cup white vinegar
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp. fresh dill, chopped

1. Combine water, sugar, salt and vinegar, stir until thoroughly dissolved; add cucumber.
2. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving; when ready to serve, drain cucumber, fold into sour cream and add dill. 
*use on top of baked potatoes… yummy!

Happy Day,
Jean