Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Preserving Floyd: Salt Preserved Herbs "...kind of fabulous." Part I

Last August when the Denver Post's food blog writer and author Eugenia Bone (Well Preserved) was discussing various ways to put up herbs, I sent her a technique to preserve herbs by salting them which she termed "kind of fabulous" on her blog (End of first paragraph.  Scroll down to comments where she reposts the recipe.)

It's a Canadian method for preserving the fresh taste of herbs for winter use.  Quebec claims it as does Newfoundland but in the international interests of peace, love, and understanding, I'm gonna go all Switzerland and credit the entire country..  Not to mention that I've veered from the traditional with other herb blends and so could claim the Caribbean, Italy, France,or the entire continent of Asia.  But Canada is where I learned it and Canadian it shall be.
 I'm going to lead you through the traditional recipe I was given but it really is more of a technique than a recipe since you can mix fresh herbs and spices to come up with your own personalized blends.  There's a lot of chopping involved and this is one time where I prefer chopping by hand as opposed to the food processor.  I want all the different ingredients to be uniform and I'm much better at eyeing that on a cutting board than in the FP.  But that's your choice.  Use the FP if you prefer.

You'll need a large-ish bowl and at least a quart sized jar for the quantity in this recipe.  You can double and triple, make as large a batch as you want, just keep the proportion of fresh ingredients to salt the same and you'll need a larger jar for the curing herbs.  As you chop your ingredients, toss them into the bowl.

Start with 1 cup of chopped chives.

1 cup of chopped green onion.  I used the scapes from the leeks in my garden.

1 cup of chopped winter savory.

1 cup of grated carrot.

1 cup of chopped celery leaves.  I think that by "chopped celery leaves" it really means cutting celery which I have growing but is not large enough to harvest yet.  So I grated a cup of celery.

1 cup of chopped parsley.  Please use Italian or flat leafed parsley.  It has the most intense flavor. Curly parsley is mostly just pretty.
There should also be a cup of chervil in this mix.  I didn't have any so I upped the amount of the other herbs to compensate.

When you have everything in the bowl, mix it all thoroughly.

Next you'll need between 1/4 to 1/2 cup of salt.  I used kosher salt but sea salt would be fine.  Don't use an iodized table salt.  It will discolor the herbs.  I usually measure out 1/3 cup of salt.  Have your jar ready.

Place a generous inch of herb mixture in the jar and sprinkle it with a layer of salt.

Repeat the layers until the jar is full.  You may not use all the salt but be sure to have used the minimum 1/4 cup measurement.

 Cap the jar, label and date it, and stick it in the fridge for two weeks for the herbs to cure.

In two weeks time I'll come back to this and show you how to finish off the herbs for storage.

Preserving Floyd: Salt Preserved Herbs Part II - The Reveal

Salted herbs will be good kept in the fridge for at least a year and maybe longer.  A year is as far as I've gotten before mine were all used up and the new herbs were ready to harvest.

Here's some other blends I've made:
Caribbean – mix of any – allspice, nutmeg, thyme, curry, mint, basil, mace, annatto, lemon grass, cloves. Ground mustard, black/white pepper, ginger, coconut, lime, hot pepper, garlic, oregano

Herbs de Provence
oregano leaves, thyme leaves, basil leaves, sage leaf, savory, lavender flowers (optional), rosemary

Fines Herbes
Tarragon, chervil, chives, parsley

Oregano, rosemary, marjoram, parsley, thyme, chives, garlic

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