Fun with Leftover Herbs

13 06 2008

It’s a question that has plagued cooks forever.  What to do with the leftover herbs?  You pay an arm and a leg for them, use a few sprigs, and the rest go to waste in the bottom of the vegetable drawer.  Herbs are much cheaper in France than they are in the US, but I still hate wasting food.  So I try to have a few projects in mind whenever I buy herbs. 

When we bought rosemary and olives for the eggplant thing, I already had it in my mind to make a loaf of olive-rosemary bread.  I used the no-knead technique that is quickly becoming one of my favorites, adding chopped olives and rosemary during the folding process.  Knead-less to say (I’m sorry, I couldn’t help myself) it was delicious.

No-Knead Rosemary-Olive Bread

But I still had some rosemary left over.  So I bought a cheap bottle of red wine vinegar and shoved the remaining rosemary inside.

Herbs + Vinegar = Gourmet Herb Vinegar  Oooh, fancy

But I was just getting started.

I also had some leftover tarragon, which was desperately in need of some attention.  I picked off any leaves that had started to decompose, washed the rest of the sprigs, and into a bottle of supermarket-brand apple cider vinegar they went.  Normally I would have used white wine vinegar, but for some reason this seems to be nonexistent here.  Anyway, I figured apples and tarragon were a good match, and I didn’t want to buy the 1.5 liter bottle of white vinegar.

And it\'s pretty, too!

A lot of sources will tell you that in order to make herb vinegars you need to have a bunch of sterilizing equipment, funnels, heated vinegar, and so on.  Personally, I don;t think it’s necessary.  Heating the vinegar may speed up the infusion process, but both these vinegars were smelling herb-alicious after a day or two of sitting in the cupboard.  I’ve also seen people recommend refrigerating them, but vinegar itself is a pretty powerful preservative.  I made some tarragon vinegar when we were living in Texas (we kept it in the fridge because of the sweltering heat 9 months out of the year) and after 6 months the vinegar was gone, but those sprigs of tarragon were still green!  Just keep it in a relatively cool, dark place.  Anyway, herb vinegars are great for adding that special something to vinaigrette, and you can make refreshing drinks from them as well.


Speaking of refreshing drinks, you can always put leftover herbs into tea or sun tea.  Mint is particularly good, so whenever we have extra mint (and the sun cooperates) I make mint-infused sun tea.  Remember my cool sun tea pitcher?  As predicted, it’s getting quite a bit of use.  This time I also happened to have some lemongrass lurking in the fridge, so I put a stalk of that in there as well.

Few things are as cool and refreshing as iced mint tea

Is it Friday already?  Cheers!




5 responses

13 06 2008
Kristy Nuttall

I LOVE the idea of putting herbs into the vinegars – going to have to try that.

14 06 2008

I LOVE the idea of putting herbs into my tea – going to have to try that instead of relying the tea companys/tea blenders all the time.

15 06 2008

Glad I could help!

17 06 2008

I love mixing fresh herbs in my tea and am beginning to experiment as friends’ gardens are abundant with herbs at the moment. I really love your iced tea pitcher, I may have to get one asap.

18 06 2008

Oooh! Lucky you!

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