Shopping and storage
Tips for Preserving Herbs
Coriander is an essential ingredient of many ethnic dishes such as in Mexican and Thai cuisine. The roots as well as the leaves of the plant can be used. Both have distinct flavours. It can be grown easily in containers placed on a sunny window sill or balcony. The leaves, also known as cilantro have a slightly bitter taste and when chopped up they can be added to dishes and breads or used as a garnish. A quick method can be used to keep the leaves fresh for weeks on end.
Firstly, pat dry the bunch of leaves and cut the stem ends off. The leaves from the lower part of the stem should also be removed, remember the cut offs can still be used or better still if you’re not planning to use them straight way pop them into the freezer in ice cube trays. The bunch should be placed into a cup with cold water added also. A plastic bag should be loosely placed over the bunch with the bottom of the bag wrapped or taped around the cup. It should then be placed into the fridge where it should be expected to last for 4-6 weeks.
If you have a bumper crop of herbs and perhaps don’t have room in your refrigerator to use the above method, making herb paste is an option. Its quick to prepare and takes up very little space once finished, also the fresh herb flavour is retained. Basil, mint, oregano and parsley are a few of the herbs this method can be used for. A food processor, your chosen herb and a small amount of olive oil are all you need. To make the paste first separate the leaves from the stems and pop them into the food processor. They should be pulsed until they are finely chopped. As you continue to process the herb add in a little olive oil until the texture becomes a smooth paste. Once you have your paste made you can store it in a container in the fridge where it will last for up to two weeks. For longer storage times freeze in ice cube trays, where they should last for two months. You can combine herbs for more flavour and create unique pastes while you experiment. Some examples include parsley and chive, also basil and oregano give great flavour. When using herbs they can be added to both hot and cold foods. Some ideas in using herbs include, mixing into hummus and spread onto bread or crackers. Herbs can be used to flavour soups and stews while also stirring into pasta dishes or pasta salads, similar to pesto.
Freezing herbs helps preserve essential oils which give herbs their flavour in the first instance.