Welcome to “back to basics”. A blog series where we cover homemade basics in the kitchen. Whether it be making condiments from scratch, storing herbs, or fermenting our own kraut – this series is is meant to focus on the making of the ingredients in a dish, rather the the final show stopper. Here’s to feeling more confident in the kitchen, every step of the way.
Are you ready for another blog series? In hopes to bring my daily kitchen habits to life here on the blog I’ve decided to share a bit more of the “basics” that so often fill my day to day, or week to week, in real life. I’m really excited about this new branch of my content here. Seldom will you find something pre-made in my cupboard or fridge, and as I’ve shared more behind the scenes via Instagram stories this year you all have shown a good bit of interest in the small preparations! This makes me smile, and feel encouraged to reveal some of the things that work for me. This is my no means an all-inclusive resource for tips, but simply things I’ve found to work for us. Take what you like, try it for yourself, and maybe discover something completely new! Also, feel free to leave tips of your own in the comments field for myself and others if you feel excited to do so, this is an open space for learning and sharing. – xx
– HERBS –
It’s no secret that I love to use fresh herbs daily if you follow my market hauls in stories, or even peruse my recipes here on the blog. A small pinch of something that costs a few pennies can add levels of flavor and create real interest to an otherwise simple dish. Here are ways I’ve chosen to use the herbs I purchase, and this is most definitely not all inclusive – like stated above – but reflective of my personal relationship wins with these delicate beauties.
Oregano, Rosemary & Thyme
When I get home: These hardier herbs are my favorite for drying out. When I’m running low on my stores, I grab a bunch of whichever I’m feeling from the farmer’s market. When I get home I wash and lay them out to dry on a cloth towel. Then I either set them aside in a bowl, or tie them with string to hang from a cabinet until the leaves have completely dried out (can take up to a week, depends on the time of year +humidity level).
How I store: Then I take one sprig at a time and twirl it in my fingers over a clean bowl, catching all of the dried leaves. I store the leaves in a small jar in the cabinet alongside my spices, and use in whatever recipes they are called for/I desire to use them in – such as sauces or vegetable roasts. I keep small amounts at a time, and use within a month or two.
Basil & Cilantro
When I get home: These softer herbs are ones I pay attention to right away when getting home with my bundles from the farmers market. I wash them (if needed) and set them out to dry on a cloth towel. I trim the stems for compost, and save the leaves from the basil. For the cilantro I use both the leaves and soft stems.
How I store: I try to plan to use the fresh herbs up that day, usually in creamy sauces. I’ve been making a batch of a creamy cilantro sauce I hope to share with you here on the blog soon, and portion the sauce into five or six small glass containers to “keep” in the fridge all week long for lunch bowls (think: less air-space in a jar, less oxidation, stays fresh longer). The basil I tend to use in pestos, or a creamy basil sauce reminiscent of the cilantro one. If we are having a pizza or pasta night I might save a few whole leaves, but the rest get blended (at this time, habits change from month to month). The basil sauces/pestos go bad quicker, so we enjoy them the first day or the following one once I bring the leaves home.
Dill & Chives
When I get home: These two herbs are my favorite for every day meal creations. I tear the dill fronts from the stems and place them in a bowl. I place half of those fronds in a small, airtight jar in the fridge. The remainder go in a second jar in the freezer. I then snip the chives into the bowl using a pair of kitchen scissors or slice using a sharp knife. I separate and store each half of the trimmed chives as I did with the dill.
How I use: I use the fresh amounts I placed in the fridge throughout the week, sprinkling over my salads, avocado toasts, and in my tofu scrambles. The dill is also wonderful for quick pickling liquids, such as my cucumber one here. The key to the fresh staying fresh is making sure there is zero water on the dill fronds or snipped chives before storing this way. When I go through my fresh stash, I work through my freezer stores in the same way (they thaw almost instantly, and can be used similar to the fresh). I can make it two weeks in between buying fresh herbs following this method.
When I get home: I wash and lay my fresh mint out to dry on a cloth towel (note: this is not spearmint or peppermint, those are different flavor profiles entirely). Then I pluck the leaves off of the thick stems and place them to the side. I compost the stems, and divide the mint leaves between two airtight jars. One jar goes in the fridge, the other in the freezer (as with the dill and chives above). It is key to make sure the leaves are completely dry before storing.
How I use: I can’t keep enough mint on hand, it seems, to keep up for my love of it in smoothies! This herb paired with blueberries is a complete dream. Use in whatever smoothie recipe you love with berries and be prepared for a real treat (same goes for in ice cream batter such as this one). Once I go through my fresh jar I move onto the freezer store and use it as I would the fresh, without thawing, since it thaws so quickly. I’m intrigued to try fresh mint in more pestos and savory dishes, stay tuned for potentially new recipes like these in the future.
I recommend to try to buy herbs fresh from your farmer’s market when possible, or grow your own too. When it comes to purchasing, I try to plan my FM trip on a day where I can set aside time for produce prep. Especially when it comes to herbs, it is best to be able to have a plan of action you can follow through with them once arriving home from the market.
Need a few days to figure things out?
Rinse and lay the herbs on a towel. Roll up while still slightly wet to dampen the towel, and place in a refrigerator drawer. Try not to leave them for more than two days.