On fresh-herb season

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.

bed of chervil

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.

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9 responses to “On fresh-herb season

  1. That chervil is beyond beautiful–I’m hoping mine will come back this year, but I don’t usually have much luck with that. I like to melt a pat of herbed butter into the broth of simmered chicken supper (“poule au pot,” en autres mots). Happy herb time~ Brett

  2. Ditto what she said. Plus, your idea for frozen herbed butter floored me. I froze a variety of herbs for the first time last fall and enjoyed them this winter enormously. Next year, I’ll add herbed butter to my stash. Thank you.

    In the meantime, my chives are up and I’m sooooo happy!

  3. This just makes me *need* a dairy animal even more. Need, I tell you.

  4. That’s a great idea. I freeze butter, but it didn’t occur to me to make and freeze herb butter. Escargot are a great pantry dinner, if you keep frozen baguettes. ooh! I think I know what we’re having for dinner!

  5. Oh, what a great idea. We’re in autumn here and I’m looking at my flourishing basil and wondering if it’ll make it through the winter. I might make some basil butter (and sage, stacks of sage) as insurance.

    I feel a bit daft because I was like oh! You can freeze butter! Um, of course you can freeze butter. I’ve just started getting raw milk from a local dairy and next on my list to make from it is butter. The yoghurt was already a raging success, but I will have surplus every other week. home made butter with home grown herbs? YES PLEASE.

  6. Escargot in herb butter is divine!I like to do them in indivual puff pastry pockets rather than putting puff pastry over the whole metal snail dish restaurants use to cover six snails.

  7. We’re a little behind you guys, chives are just peeking up. But I do have a lovely patch of cilantro in the tunnels so far, boy that tastes good this time of year.

  8. Love the eye-popping lime of your herbs! Best of luck to you and your Mom.

  9. Hiya Brett. Indeed, melted butter added to anything just before serving is just wunderbar. The herbs make it just slightly more decadent. Chervil likes it cool so it’s no wonder it doesn’t last too long with you: MN has some hot-a**ed summers, dude. Anyway, once it’s happy somewhere, just don’t mess with it; it should reseed itself.

    Congrats on the chives, TF! Aren’t you happy? Fresh chives, well, I never tire of them. And yeah, temperamental herbs like basil freeze even better rolled up in fat.

    Diana, I wouldn’t stand between you and a *need,* believe me! (Chevre and camembert freeze really well FYI.)

    Paula, hmm, where do you get escargot? Is it canned or something, or is this simply a great PNW foraging experience?

    Kate, yeah, most of our butter IS frozen because we, um, get it in bulk on the sly from a cow dairy. So we even refreeze the butter, it’s not much of a problem because it was great stuff to begin with. Have fun experimenting! Butter’s easy to make, and do I need to remind you about home-made ice cream?

    John, you’re killing me! I think my kid would be on Cloud Nine if I were to tune her in to snails. And you can wrap puff pastry around nearly everything and just die happy.

    Sara, I agree, I’m throwing cilantro in everything right now: it’s bound to go to seed soon. Your hoops look great, aren’t you happy?

    Thanks, WS. Truly.

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