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Herbs

Basil

Pungent flavor - cross between licorice and cloves. Available year round.

Choose leaves that are fresh, unspotted and fragrant. To keep fresh wrap in damp paper towels - place in plastic. Put stems in glass of water and change water every few days. Wash and remove leaves from stems. If recipe calls for 1 teaspoon dried - double the amount of fresh.

Throw handful of fresh basil into salads for great taste.

Chives

Available year round.

Related to onion and leek. Resembles grass - tastes like mild onions. They produce a pretty lavender flower - edible. Choose uniform, green - no signs of brown or wilting and use immediately.

Rinse and dry with paper towel. Snip to desired length. Don't chop - will bruise. Cooking diminishes flavor. Add at last moment.

Oregano

Strong and spicy - natural in tomato dishes. Two varieties - Mediterranean and Mexican. The Mediterranean is milder and the Mexican is highly spicy.

Look for fresh leaves - no brown spots. Keep in plastic bag in refrigerator. To dry - tie stems together and hang upside down in a well-ventilated area. Keep dried in an air tight container. To freeze - chop fresh oregano in water in an ice cube tray. Store frozen cubes in a plastic bag in freezer.

Rosemary

Grows wild on sea cliffs - taking in the sun and salty air. Silvery green, spiky leaves - pungent aroma. Flavor hints of lemon and pine.

Look for fresh springy with no signs of drying out. Leaves will feel velvety. They will last 1 week in a plastic bag. Easy to dry - tie upside down in a well ventilated area out of the sun. When fully dried, leaves will be hard. Snip off leaves and put into air-tight jars. Rinse and pay dry. Use in soups, stews, other dishes. Use in moderation or it will overwhelm dishes.

Thyme

Most commonly used herb. Perennial bush - gray-green leaves. Fragrant-minty, lightly lemon aroma. Used in everything from chewing gum to cough syrup.

Available during Summer months.

Many varieties of the herb: garden thyme - sharp peppery taste with haunting aroma - one most cooks use.

Wrap in barely damp paper towel and then plastic bag. Will stay fresh for up to 5 days.

Tarragon

Enrich - eggs, chicken, shrimp dishes. Available summer and early fall. Look for deep green tarragon sprigs with long narrow pointed leaves. Sniff for peppery scent with anise undertones.

Will keep only a few days in the refrigerator. Wash, dry and remove thick stems. Use caution when seasoning. Flavor subtle - herb can easily overwhelm other ingredients. For tarragon vinegar - bruise sprigs with mallet.

Sage

Narrow, oval, gray-green leaves with pungent flavor of musty mint. Often used in Thanksgiving stuffing. Italians fry sage leaves in butter to flavor pastas. Available year round.

Look for soft, silvery green leaves with no brown spots. Heady aroma. Refrigerate unwashed for up to 4 days. Natural partner with pork or poultry.

Sage oil: Cook in 2 cups of olive oil and heat until herb starts to sizzle, but don't let smoke. Remove from heat. When cooled - discard cooked sage. Add fresh sage springs in bottle with cooled oil. Make sure sage is covered or will become moldy. Cork bottle.

Mint

25 varieties - 2 most commonly used are peppermint and spearmint. Peppermint most pungent of the two. Bright green leaves - purple stems spearmint - true green leaves or grayish-green leaves. Choose fresh evenly colored leaves. Store in glass of water with stems down. Cover with plastic bag and store in refrigerator. Change water every few days. Will stay fresh up to 1 week. Great garnish for cooked meats or fruits.

Recipes

Flavored Olive Oil

Gabby's Pesto Sauce

Other recipes from Produce Pete.

   

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