Save the harvest
This is a great method for preserving excess herbs that you’ve grown or bought. My dear friend, Maya, has been doing this for the past 5 seasons, allowing her to enjoy her garden spoils throughout the year. As a bonus, the herbs’ fresh-tasting flavors get more intense as time passes. She makes 3 varieties: an equal mixture of oregano, thyme, and sage; a basil batch; and a rosemary batch. Use them in salad dressings and marinades, and of course, when cooking. The rosemary is heavenly on steamed or roasted potatoes, the basil is a nice surprise in mashed potatoes or tasty on a green bean salad.
- Harvest herbs early or late in the day when they are cool, to avoid wilting
- Herbs must be thoroughly DRY before you begin, since it is water that causes spoilage. After washing, remove excess water with a paper towel, then spread herbs out for an hour or till all the water evaporates. (It may not be necessary to wash the herbs from your own garden, use your judgement)
- Strip the leaves, discard stems. Mince the herbs as finely as you can. This will release the most flavor into the oil. Maya likes using a ”mezza luna” knife (a curved Italian blade with a handle at each end that allows you to rock back and forth).
- Spoon herbs into small mason jars leaving about 1/2" from the top, then fill with olive oil (use cooking not extra virgin). Let the jars stand for an hour or so, topping them up as the oil is absorbed. There should be a 1/2" layer of just oil at the top, which will act very much like a wax seal.
- Label and refrigerate the jars. When using, spoon out what you need, and be sure to cover any exposed herbs with additional oil. Don't worry if you leave the jar out of the fridge and the oil liquefies, this will not cause spoilage, but do remember to put them back in the fridge when you are finished cooking. The photo on the right shows how it looks when it first comes out of the refrigerator.