Spring is here. It’s here on the calendar, anyway; March came in and went out leonine, ferocious. The only thing that tells me it’s the end of March and not the end of February is the strength of the sun. You feel the strength of its life-giving rays no matter how chill the air.
The herbs are certainly clued in to the seasonal change. It’s at this time of year, thanks mainly to the greenhouses, that I am a fresh-herb fool. The tender shoots of chervil, chives, tarragon, parsley and thyme just ask for snipping. Even the new growth on the otherwise woody herbs of rosemary and sage (greenhouse-grown) and outdoor marjoram, oregano and winter savory are fleshy. The bunching onions (scallions) are also shooting to the sky both indoors and out. And mint, my nemesis, gets a bit of a smile out of me before I yank it out of the ground.
This, of course, means it’s time to make about 7 months’ worth of herbed butter.
There’s nothing easier, frankly. Chop shockingly fresh herbs and mix with unsalted (or salted, your call) softened butter. Add lemon or orange zest if you wish. I place the butter in ramekins, about a 1/4 cup per, and freeze them; once frozen, I remove them from the ramekins and wrap them tightly with freezer paper and refreeze. I also make tubes of them in the freezer paper like refrigerator cookies.
The uses for herbed butter are nearly endless. And knowing I have it saves me a lot of time: just a couple tablespoons added (even still frozen) to the soup pot before serving, or atop fish or mild meat or with pasta or grains? Oolala.