The abundance of lush herbs in vegetable gardens, planters and public markets prompts us to stock up to “vitaminate” and color the months to come. So the time has come to cook, process, freeze and dry them.
• Read also: “Eat local!”: Enjoy the proximity all year round
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Freshly cut or kept in the refrigerator (the stems in water or lying between two damp cloths), the herbs wait to be cooked, then eaten immediately. They garnish a generous tabbouleh, a tzatziki sauce, a pasta dish, a salsa verde, a marinade, a pizza, a salad … We put it everywhere! “Not just as a decoration on the top of a dish,” says nutritionist Julie Aubé, author of the book Eat local! published by Éditions de L’Homme. Herbs deserve to be
the star ingredient in a meal!
For longer term consumption, herbs need a little processing. Since salt has proven its worth in food preservation, what a great idea to whip up a few jars of salted herbs to put in the fridge, to season soups, fillings, marinades and sauces, one spoon at a time. In addition, soaking herbs in a local vinegar placed in the fridge will perfume the one that will become the basis of a tasty house vinaigrette.
Several fresh herbs can also be frozen to take advantage of this beautiful strain during the cold season. David Jolicoeur,
co-owner of Herbes en folie for the awakening of the senses, recommends chopping them, then placing them in ice cube molds with a little water. Here are perfect portions, ready to
enhance a recipe.
Mme Aubé suggests creating a homemade pesto, reducing her favorite herbs
(chives, cilantro, mint, basil, etc.) in a food processor, with seasonings, firm cheese and roasted sunflower seeds, for example, then also garnish an ice cube container, which then becomes “our best friend, ”she said.
Scented butters are also great in the freezer, while waiting to enhance potatoes, gnocchi, pieces of meat or croutons. Herb-infused melted butter, tempered and shaped into a sausage with plastic wrap, will always be close at hand.
A drying method, accessible to all, is to hang the herbs (thyme, rosemary, lavender, oregano, etc.) upside down in a dry place out of direct sunlight, so that they do not lose their beautiful color, advises Mr. Jolicoeur.
When they crackle under your fingers, they’re ready! If the herbs retain a little moisture, mold can grow in them. They should then be poured into an airtight container and kept in a dry, dark place. Why not take the opportunity to create personalized mixes and give them as gifts?
Recipe from the book Eat local! by Julie Aubé, published by Éditions de L’Homme
► Makes 6 jars of 2 cups
- 3 cups of herbs and leaves (parsley and celery leaves and / or carrot tops)
- 1/4 cup carrot, chopped
- 1/4 cup radishes, chopped
- 1/4 cup celery, chopped
- 1/2 medium onion, chopped (or 2 green onions, chopped)
- 1/2 cup coarse salt
- Chop the herbs and leaves in a food processor. Transfer to a large bowl.
- Add the other ingredients and mix.
- Distribute the mixture in the jars by pressing it.
- Refrigerate (and wait about 2 weeks before using).
Pears in honey syrup
Pears in syrup is one of the first recipes I used to can other than jam. I think not a fall has gone by that I haven’t done since. We bet you will do the same from now on!
► Makes 6 jars of 2 cups
- 1/3 cup of verjuice
- 5 cups of water
- 4 lbs of pears (about 12 to 15 pears, depending on size)
- 1 cup of honey
- Complete the step of preparing jars and lids, and leave them in hot water until filling.
- In a large bowl, combine the verjuice and water.
- Peel the pears, cut them in half and remove the core using a Parisian spoon. Gradually drop them in the water with verjuice.
- Drain the pears, keeping the water in the verjuice. Pour this juice into a saucepan, add the honey and bring to a boil.
- Meanwhile, fill the jars with pear halves to within 2 cm (1 inch) of the edge.
- When the syrup is boiling, pour it into the jars up to 1 cm (1/2 inch) from the edge. Remove air bubbles and close the jars (do not over-screw the rings).
- Place the jars in the pot of hot water. Heat for 20 minutes, then turn off the heat and let stand in water for 5 minutes.
- Remove the jars from the water, let them cool and check that the lids are on.
For a chic and fragrant version with a captivating Quebec spice, add 1 or 2 sprigs of local saffron to each jar. If you can’t find verjuice, use apple cider vinegar.
Red pepper coulis
► Makes 3 cups – easy to double
- 2 tbsp. of sunflower oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 5 medium garlic cloves, sliced
- 1 1/2 lbs red bell peppers, seeded, cut into chunks
- 1 1/2 cups of water (or white wine or homemade broth)
- 3 sprigs of fresh herbs (thyme, savory, oregano, rosemary), whole
- Salt and pepper
- In a saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat, then brown the onion and garlic for about 3 minutes, until lightly browned.
- Add the peppers and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Pour in the water and add the herbs. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 25 minutes.
- Remove the herbs. Reduce the mixture to a smooth grout using a foot mixer or a stand mixer. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Transfer the coulis to containers for freezing.
I like to freeze a 2-cup container for a future pasta dish and four 1/4 cup servings. You just need to thaw some as needed to make salsa, kimchi or a dip. You can also freeze the coulis in small portions in an ice cube tray.