Posted: June 25, 2021 in Food, Recipes, salt
Tags: , , , ,

I know many people like to dry the herbs they grow in their garden. It’s easy enough to do: you snip ’em, wash ’em, and then dry ’em, usually in a food dehydrator or on a sheet pan placed in a low-heat oven.

I prefer to freeze my herbs. Every year, I grow a wide variety: several types of basil, parsley, oregano, tarragon, thyme, rosemary, lavender, and massive quantities of sage. I snip the herbs, wash them and dry them in a salad spinner, and then place them in plastic freezer bags, squeezing all the air out before sealing. I place all those smaller bags in one larger bag, for extra protection. I like the color and flavor of the herbs better this way. I learned this method years ago, in my younger days, when preserving the potency of particular herbs was essential. (That’s all I’ll say about that!)

Freshly washed and dried sage.

The reason I grow a lot of sage is because I usually make a very large quantity of stuffies (the New England stuffed clam) in the wintertime and the recipe calls for several cups of fresh sage…really expensive if you decide to buy it at the supermarket in the dead of winter.

I snip the sage leaves, and before washing, I pre-measure them, usually a cup or two at a time, packing them somewhat tightly in a glass measuring cup. Once I have my measurement, I wash them, dry them in the salad spinner, and place them in plastic bags, marking the quantity on the bag. Then, when my stuffies recipe calls for 4 cups of sage, I simply grab the amount of bags I need and I’m ready to go.

Pre-measured sage, ready to go in the freezer.

But even though I do all this, I’ve still got a herb overload in my garden, and it seems like such a waste to let them simply turn into compost. Recently, I read an article in Christopher Kimball’s “Milk Street Magazine,” featuring New Orleans chef Alon Shaya. When he faces massive herb leftovers, he takes all of them–and here’s the key–it doesn’t matter what herbs they are–and tosses them in a food processor with an equal amount of kosher salt. A few seconds of processing, and he’s got a fantastic herb salt that he then uses in all kinds of dishes. (To keep the herb salt fresh, it’s a good idea to put it in a tightly sealed container in the freezer.)

My mix of garden herbs. Really: you can mix and match anything.

I thought that was a brilliant way to use up the leftover herbs I had in my garden, so I gave it a try: a tightly packed cup’s worth of fresh herbs, plus a cup of Kosher salt in the processor.

The beautiful color of herbed salt.

I went one step further. If having herbed salt is a great idea, then having herbed butter at the ready has to be even better! I simply took a stick of unsalted butter out of the fridge and let it soften. (Use unsalted butter or the result will be way too salty.) I added one tablespoon of the herbed salt to the butter and mixed it in well. Then I placed the butter on a sheet of wax paper, and rolled it into a small log, twisting the ends of the paper to seal it, placing it in a plastic bag and into the freezer.

Herb butter.

Now, when I want to amp-up the flavor of a freshly grilled steak or piece of fish (or a plate of freshly cooked  boiled or baked potatoes,) I just take the log of herbed butter out of the freezer, slice a piece off, and let it melt over the top, placing the log back for future use.


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