June 23, 2017

Summertime Is Chive Time: Cooking With Seasonal Herbs

Fresh herbs pack a punch that dried, shelf-stable varieties often lack. If you’re attending a cooking school in Colorado, you likely appreciate the value of fresh seasonal herbs and spices. A review of some of the freshest seasonings available can help you further develop your skills and craft top-notch dishes. These recommendations will help you get the most out of your herbs:

Using all your herbs effectively

Whether making efficient use of herbs stored in a restaurant walk-in cooler or from a home garden before they start to fade and lose flavor, putting your fresh seasonal herbs to work when they’re at their best is vital for delicious results. That’s easy enough when you have a full slate of meals in mind for the week, but how can you make efficient use of what’s left over? Bon Appetit offered a number of tips, including:

  • Infusions, compounds and syrups: Fresh herbs can add a single, strong flavor – mint is a great example – or a complex mixture of notes to a variety of long-lasting ingredients. Making a simple syrup with mint, which can work well in teas, coffees and cocktails, or rosemary, for a more uncommon flavor profile. Many herbs and mixtures of them also have applications in compound butters, which have a variety of culinary applications and a long shelf life when frozen. You can also consider infusing both mildly flavored oils and various liquors with herbs to add a unique flavor.
  • The big salad: Put herbs on display and let diners taste the flavors directly by using them in a large salad. The appropriate use of herbs – cleaning them and removing the stems before adding to a salad – means more flavor and the ability to skip a heavier dressing in favor of lighter options.
  • Turn them into dried herbs: While not as flavorful as the fresh type, taking advantage of the easy availability of herbs in summer to store them for colder months means simple access to many flavors throughout the year. Just tie small bunches of the herbs together, hang to dry upside down in a cool room and occasionally tighten the string or rubber band as they lose moisture.
A flavorful salad is just one of many applications for fresh herbs.A flavorful salad is just one of many applications for fresh herbs.

Prolong their useful life

More time to use your herbs means less rush to use them up – although many of the methods previously detailed are delicious in their own right. Serious Eats offered a quick and simple approach to keeping herbs as fresh as possible for as long as possible. Wash the herbs in a salad spinner, spin them to dry and lay them on paper towels and blot to remove any additional moisture. For hardy herbs, place on a slightly damp paper towel, roll up the towel and place inside a plastic bag or wrap and keep in the refrigerator.

For tender herbs, cut slightly above the base, remove any wilted pieces and place inside a tall mason jar with about an inch of water at the bottom.