Category Archives: Herb Everything

Blog posts and herbal experiences

Caramelize Onions in the Crockpot

Saving  Sweet Onions

The best ways to keep those giant sweet onions.

  • Caramelize

  • Pickle

  • Dehydrate

  • Caramelize

When there are too many onions, or find a great sale on them, its Caramelized Onion time. Fill a crock pot with sliced onions and allow them to slow cook overnight. When you wake up, you will discover the onions are transformed into a pricey gourmet treat I am too frugal to buy.

I started with several super sweet giant onions from the farmers market. Sweet onions have a short shelf life, so plan to freeze or dehydrate onions you will not use within a month. Super sweets should be refrigerated. Store onions in a cool, dry place. Sweet onions store for a maximum of three months, but storage types may last throughout the winter.

Caramelized onion pie with tomato and thyme. PBH

Once reduced to a pale golden layer of soft, fragrant onions, allow them to cool completely.  Use these sweet, tender onions as a base for soups, vegetable broth, or the best Onion Soup ever made. Caramelized Onions are the base for onion and tomato pie.

When onions are cool, store extra onions in one cup portions in freezer bags or containers. Label and date packages. Later, drop the onions, frozen, into soup, veggie broth, chili, or stew.

Sweet Caramelized Onions are tasty enough to serve as a side dish topping. Just season with a splash of herb vinegar, vegan butter, thyme, salt pepper. Serve over toast, on roasted vegetables or green beans. or layer in a vegetable lasagna.

Slice onions and add to crock pot with 2 tablespoons of vegan butter and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Make the recipe your own by adding a splash of white wine, cracked pepper, a spring or two of fresh thyme.

Caramelizing onions is a great way to extend the sweet onion season. Whether you are a fan of sweet Texas onions, Walla Walla or the famous Vidalia, give this crock pot recipe a try. It also works with other white or yellow onions, they just aren’t as sweet.

If you have red onions to keep, try making a quick refrigerator pickle recipe. It’s the best thing that ever happened to a grilled or roasted veggie sandwich.

  • Pickle

Red onions become beautiful pink pickles. The cost of a jar of pickled red onions in the local deli sent me home to make my own in minutes for pennies. PBH

Pickled Red Onions‬

1 tablespoon cane sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ – 2 cups of white vinegar
herb sprigs or peppercorns (optional)

Slice 2 or 3 medium size red onions in 1/4” slices.

In a small sauce pan, add sugar, salt and vinegar. Heat and stir until sugar and salt are completely dissolved. Add onion slices. Heat through and cook for 1 minute.

Add a sprig of herbs or a few peppercorns to the bottom of each container or jar.
Pack onions into pint canning jars or a container with tightly covered lid.

Pour vinegar over onions to completely cover the onions. Close the jars or containers and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Keeps up to three weeks in refrigerator.

Suggested herbs: oregano, dill, thyme or  small nasturtium leaves.

  • Dehydrate

Cut onion in half, then slice big sweet onions about 1/4 inch thick. PBH

To Dehydrate Onions

Another method of preserving a lot of onions is to dehydrate them. That intense onion flavor will boost onion flavor in French onion soup, and enliven any veggie burger.

When onions are completely dry, put them in the blender to make onion powder. It is a perfect, space-saving, long-term storage method for onions.

Rich onion soup served in bread bowls or topped with croutons. PBH

It is hard to imagine a civilization without onions.  –   Julia Child

Onion Soup Recipe

  • 4 large sweet onions (about 3 pounds), thinly sliced*
  • 2 tablespoons white wine or champagne vinegar
  • 4 -6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced (your choice)
  • 1 or two fresh springs of thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dry)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 cups of vegetable broth
  • slices of baguette to top soup bowls
  • 1/2 cup shredded vegan cheese
  • Fresh chives or  thyme leaves, for garnish

* any combo of mild or hot onions, leeks, shallots to equal 3 pounds

Instructions:

Heat a soup pot or dutch oven over medium high heat. Add onions and stirring often until onions begin to caramelize, about 15 minutes. Add wine and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pan. When the wine has evaporated, add garlic, thyme sprigs, salt, pepper and 6 cups of vegetable or mushroom broth (or water). Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer about 40 minutes and then remove thyme springs.

Ladle onion soup into oven-safe bowls. Top with a slice of baguette and spread each slice with 1 tablespoon of shredded vegan cheese. Place in a hot oven or under the broiler for 5 to 7 minutes, or until cheese is hot and golden.

Garnish with chives or green onions and serve.

The easiest way to grow alliums* and establish your own onion patch is with a starter pot of chives. Or, plant a clove or two of your kitchen garlic, or order onion starts from a commercial grower. The cheapest way to grow onions is to start them from seed.

*Allium is a genus of monocotyledonous flowering plants that includes hundreds of species, including the cultivated onion, garlic, scallion, shallot, leek, and chives.

Plant these little onions 1 or 2 inches apart. As they grow, thin the onions throughout the spring untill plants are properly spaced for bulbing. PBH

Grow an onion patch

To Grow

Onions prefer light, sandy, loamy soils, good drainage and full sun. They will grow in other types of soil, including clay. Green onions can be grown in partial shade.

Begin growing onions indoors from seed about six weeks before the last predicted frost date. Sow in flats, then transplant onions to 1″-2″ apart. Harden off onion seedling before transplanting outdoors to prevent sunscald.

I have my best luck growing onions from sets or starts. These baby onion plants are ready to plant. Even though sets are more expensive, they can be directly planted where the onions will grow. Or, plant them closer, thinning and using green onions until the remaining onions are properly spaced.

I buy onions and leek plants from Dixondale Farms. Start with well worked soil before planting. Onions are successful in the garden or in containers.

Spacing depends on the variety of onion. Generally, planting to 3″ – 4″ inches apart for green onions and thinning to at least 5-6 inches apart for bulbing onions. Proper spacing will affect the size of the mature onion.

Harvest onions a week after the tops have start to yellow and fall over

Most home cooks love having a year round supply of onions. They are easy to grow, take up little garden space and the varieties are endless. Onions are a recipe staple used in all cuisines of the world.

The Last Tomato

 Tomato reviews

A big green Omar’s Lebanese tomato will ripen to a juicy pink, almost red color. The last tomato of the season is also the biggest one of the year. As the green tomatoes slowly ripen, we’ll have home-grown tomatoes for at least a week.

The best of Dr. Carolyn Male’s extensive 1995 heirloom tomato trials, Omar’s Lebanese Tomato.

This is the day a gardener runs out to the garden gathering up the last vegetable remnants of the season. The kitchen counter is heaped with any tomato with a touch of color. They will ripen gradually, depending how ripe they are when picked.

Garden season is nearly done for me. There’s still sweet potatoes to dig and garlic to plant. The stars of the garden, tomatoes, herbs and peppers are finished in the garden.

Best Big Tomato

Omar’s Lebanese

Omar’s Lebanese is an heirloom variety from Omar Saab of Lebanon. This pink indeterminate grows big tomatoes on heavy vines that must be strongly supported or staked.

An heirloom grown by farmers in a Lebanese hill town, it is a juicy and meaty beefsteak type tomato. The regular leaf plant produces  irregularly shaped 1-pound+ tomatoes mid to late season.

Some of the tomatoes in my garden suffered from blight. But Omar’s Lebanese was producing hefty fruit on healthy vines right up until the freeze.

Pick all tomatoes with a hint of color. Extend the tomato season by a week or two.

It’s been a great run, home-grown tomatoes June to October.

 

 

 

 

Best Dwarf Tomato

 Bush 506 Container Tomato

Bush 506 is drought tolerant and blemish free.

Bush 506 dwarf plant, full-sized tomatoes.

The earliest tomato and one of the latest tomatoes on the deck is the Bush 506 Container Tomato. This dwarf bush tomato plant will only reach 18-24″ tall and has a medium-large sized red juicy fruits.

They are great for container growing as the plants stay compact and have thick, upright stems producing 9 oz. fruits. Bush 506 is a good choice for dwarf size plants that produces full-sized tomatoes.

Bush 506 produced the earliest and latest tomatoes of the season.

Best new cocktail tomato

Red Racer F1, cocktail tomato

Red Racer, perfect red, round, tomatoes

On June 7, I planted 3 tomato plants sent by Harris seed. I planted the Red Racer 2018 AAS Edible – Vegetable Winner. Red Racer, a cocktail size tomato, producing small, round red fruits.

Although larger than cherry or grape tomatoes, cocktail tomatoes are a smaller variety tomato. These round, red, blemish free cocktail tomatoes have a good sweet/acid balance.

The compact determinate plants produce fruit a week earlier than comparison plants. They thrived in the planter boxes on a deck in the full sun. Red Racer is a great choice for small spaces and container gardens.

Mint Happens

Control this aggressive herb by planting it in a controlled space or between paving stones.

I just watched a friends YouTube “how to propagate mint plants.” A better story is how to control mint plants before they take over your garden.

Years ago I asked a friend for a start of his mint plant. Phil said no.

“Because we won’t be friends any more. When it takes over your garden and then your yard, you will hate me.

So, no. I won’t give you mint because I like you.”

I have 5 kinds of mint in my gardens these days. Each mint plant is in an assigned garden spot.

Mint In The Garden

These two mint plants are competing for sunshine and space with the near by lavender plants.

I plant  starter mint plants in long chimney tiles buried deep in the ground. The terracotta tubes help to control the rambling roots. Everyday, I snip off a sprig of mint from one of the plants to add to my tea.

Because I have plenty of mint, I generously use it in my cooking. Once you have a generous supply of mint, you will find ways to use it in your cooking. Plus, my bar tending skills  legendary since I mastered the mojito.

 

Growing and Caring For Mint Plants

Mint will do just fine on its own. No need to feed or water it. That would only encourage the plant to take over your world.

After overwintering in my zone 6, Southeast Missouri garden, the mint starts to come back in the spring.

Plant mint in containers with drainage holes. Sink the container in the ground. Leave the top of the container a few inches above ground level. Prune plants to keep stems in upright position. Stems that touch the ground will quickly root.

Winters and planting in containers control the spreading root systems. Its rhizomes, or roots, run underground and can send up shoots several feet from the mother plant.

To create more plants, place a sprig of mint in a glass of water until roots form.

Mint In The Kitchen

Mint is loaded with nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C, and some vitamin B2. It also has essential minerals such as manganese, copper, iron, potassium and calcium.Mint tea is said to aid in digestion and heartburn relief.

Mint Recipes

Tabbouleh

Dressed in good quality extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice, chopped fresh parsley and mint combined with tomato, cucumber and bulgur. to show off summer’s best vegetables and herbs.

Mint pesto

Lemon mint pesto

4 cups lightly packed mint leaves,rinsed and spun dry
1/3 cup sunflower seeds or pepitas
2 medium cloves garlic minced
grated zest of one lemon
salt and black pepper to taste
1/3 cup olive oil, more if needed

Blend all ingredients except olive oil in a food processor until finely chopped. Slowly add the olive oil while the machine is running until the mint is a loose paste.

Include mint in any pesto recipe. Using mint leaves in addition to basil is exclusively to serve over marinated tomatoes, gazpacho, or in a salad dressing. Try mint pesto with garlic scapes or pea shoots.

 

The largest choice of mint is at RICHTERS HERBS   in Goodwood, ON, Canada  Tel. +1.905.640.6677  Fax. +1.905.640.6641 My favorites from them are Hillary’s Sweet Lemon Mint, Mojito Mint and, Peppermint Mint.

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Today’s Double Harvest Basket 6/20 & 6/26

2017  Garlic Harvest in a zone 6, southeast Missouri garden. The bulbs are ready to lift mid to late June every year.  A week later, the garlic harvest has doubled.

Garlic 6/20

Freshly dug garlic needs to dry and cure before storage. The scapes go into white wine vinegar.

Perhaps the smallest garlic harvest I’ve had in years. There is one more little late patch to harvest, but this is the bulk of the 2017 garlic crop.

Pickled garlic mellows to a very mild flavor with time.

The garlic heads are smaller this year. After the garlic cries on the covered porch for a couple of days, I braid the bigger heads. The rest is roasted or pickled.

While cloves of garlic are bound for jars of kosher dills, Small cloves of pickled garlic are ideal for antipasta plates and veggie/pickles dishes.

More Garlic 6/26

Late harvest garlic was much bigger. This harvest weighed about 50% more

There are now 50 to 60 good-sized heads, That’s about a years worth because we use about a head every week of the year. Sometimes less, sometimes more, plus a lot goes into sauces, pickles, and roasted then frozen.

1 week later we’ve doubled the garlic harvest.

Garlic Scapes

Garlic scapes are the spring bonus for growing your own garlic.

The first garlic related harvest of the season is clipping the scapes, or flower heads, from the plants.

Garlic scapes were plentiful because I planted mostly hard neck garlic. One week, I found garlic scapes at the farmers market for $2 a bunch. One of my favorite seasonal meals garlic scape pesto.

I add a few scapes into a bottle of good white wine vinegar. By this winter, it will become a premium herb vinegar. It’s mellowed garlic vinegar is almost sweet.

Sexy Food

Make pesto using garlic scapes instead of, or in addition to, basil. Serve with Pappardelle, broad, flat pasta noodles, similar to wide fettuccine. (The name derives from the verb “pappare”, to gobble up.) This really is OMG food.

If I was served a dish like fresh garlic scape pesto over homemade Pappardelle, it would be unforgettable gold star dish. It’s adult rated food. Once you put it in your mouth, you will know how an Italian dish can be 4 Star And x rated at the same time.

To Make Pesto: Puree the garlic scapes, sunflower seeds, Parmesan, salt, and pepper in a food processor until finely chopped. With the motor running, drizzle the olive oil through the opening.

How to Grow and Harvest Organic Garlic

Gently lift garlic and move to the shade.

Growing your own garlic is easy and takes very little space.

Your also get to select the type of garlic you grow, very mild or hot and pungent.

Save your biggest and best garlic head to replant in the fall. Never buy garlic again.

These smaller heads of garlic are roasted. Then, the softened bulbs squeezed into teaspoonful portions and frozen for later use.

Mild, roasted garlic is not over powering or hot to the taste. It easily blends into any recipe. Perfect for pasta sauces or garlic toast. Try it. You will never be with out fresh, local garlic.

I purchased my garlic from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. They have a variety of hard and soft neck garlic. While I keep the best variety that I grow, It’s fun to try other types of garlic. I tend select the milder varieties and long keepers.

This fall, plant a variety of garlic. That imported no-name variety purchased at the grocery store will be your last choice.

 

 

 

 

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Today’s Harvest Basket 6 /12, 6/16

Squash blossoms and herbs

No more complaining about too many zucchini. Pick the flowers to prevent zucchini squash overload.

Pick zucchini blossoms in the morning.

Today’s harvest basket is loaded with big yellow flowers, blooms from the zucchini plant.

Fragile and short-lived squash blossoms are pricey, if you can find them at the farmers market. Any kind of squash can be used in this gourmet dish.

Add the flowers to pasta primavera, salads or omelets. Fried squash blossoms are a big restaurant hit. My favorite is baked, stuffed squash blossoms.

There is a monster squash plant in my garden.

By monster I mean, it has completely taken over the 4 ft. x 4 ft. raised bed and is creeping out several feet on all sides of the bed. It is a squash blossom factory.

The monster sized squash plant is a volunteer plant that I don’t recognize from any seed catalog. The new 4×4 raised bed is filled with lots of compost, garden waste and kitchen scraps that I’ve added since last fall. This spring, the monster squash plant appeared.

I have well-behaved zucchini plants growing in containers on the deck. The monster squash plant’s only purpose is to produce flowers. I don’t want more zucchini squash, for heaven’s sake.

Pick flowers in the morning. Rinse and hold in cool water until time to prepare. Freshly picked flowers will stay fresh for a couple of days when wrapped in damp paper towels stored in the refrigerator.

The only purpose of this squash plant is to produce blossoms. I did not grow this zucchini for squash. Collect blooms every day or two.

Oven Roasted Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

Remove the stamen from the flower.

Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients:
  • 12 zucchini blossoms, center pistil or stamens removed
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh herbs (such as parsley, basil, thyme, mint)
  • 2 tablespoons pepitas and/or sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • salt and pepper (optional)
  • olive oil, for drizzling

 

Add 1 or 2 teaspoons of cheese mixture.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet or line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. Gently remove the stamen from the center of the flowers.
  3. Combine the ricotta, herbs, pepitas, sunflower seeds and egg together. Season with salt and pepper (optional).
  4. Carefully open the blossoms and stuff with the 1-2 teaspoons of ricotta mixture per flower depending on the size of the flower. Gently twist the flower at the end to enclose the filling.Lay stuffed zucchini flowers on prepared sheet pan or baking dish and drizzle with olive oil.
  5. Bake for 25 or 30 minutes, or until the baby squash is tender-crisp and blossom starts to brown on bottom.

Suggestions. Add 1 Tablespoon garlic pesto or any pesto to ricotta mixture instead of chopped herbs. Serve warm squash blossoms with pasta sauce on the side for dipping.

I grow zucchini from seed in containers. Container Zucchini Astia  from Renee’s Garden. Serve roasted, sautéed, grilled or baked.

Pick squash when about 5″ or 6″long.

 

Too many zucchini? Go To: my Pinterest board Zucchini Everything

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Chervil – You Can GrowThat!

If you don’t grow your own, you probably will not have the privilege of  enjoying this fresh herb in the spring and fall. Chervil’s delicate anise flavor and dainty appearance make this a must grow herb for herb gardeners and foodies.

Chervil Anthriscus cerefolium, is a mild flavored, delicate cool season annual.

Direct seed chervil in early spring. Plant in filtered sun or light shade if climate is hot areas. Sow seeds an inch apart in well worked soil. Barely cover and keep soil moist. Germinates in 10 to 14 days.

Chervil grows to 10 -12 inches tall.  Once seeds germinate and grow 1 inch tall,   thin seedlings to one plant every 6 inches or so. Chervil has a delicate tap root and does not transplant well.

Plant chervil in partial shade or, in the spotty shade under other plants. It grows best in moist soil and cool spring weather.

I use chervil (pronounced SHER-vil) in delicate dishes, like tomorrows breakfast omelet. Sprigs of chervil will top the deviled eggs and, in a nonmayonnaise based potato salad.

As soon as the weather heats up, chervil plants bolt (flower and set seed) By June, my plants have set seed. After seeds are brown and dry, I’ll collect them to reseed in the fall and  next spring.

Although you probably aren’t going to eat enough chervil to make a nutritional impact, it is a flavorful source of calcium and potassium.

Chervil is a delicate annual, growing only in cool weather. It’s a great herb for succession planting. Add a few seed to the garden every week in the spring to extend the season as long as possible.

Fines Herbes

Add fresh chopped chervil at the last-minute to enhance to bright flavor in any dish.

The famous French herb blend uses chervil. The combo includes chervil,  parsley, chives and French tarragon. Fines herbes (pronounced feens-erb) is best used fresh because the herbs lose a lot of flavor when dried.

 

 

 

Remember, anything you grow as an early spring crop can be grown  fall crop. Sometimes veggies are even more successful since the soil is already warm.

Chervil Herb Butter

One of the best ways to preserve chervil is in butter.

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped chervil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Blend lemon juice, and chervil into softened butter. shape butter into a log and chill. Refrigerate or freeze butter log.

Chervil is sometimes used as a tarragon substitute. When cooking with chervil, add to dishes at the ending of cooking to preserve the delicate flavor.

Use chervil or chervil butter in omelets and scrambled eggs.

Companion plant chervil near cabbages and kale. Chervil is said to help repel slugs. It is easy to grow as a container plant.

Chervil is a delicate herb with a short season. It’s rare that you will find it in the market. If you want to enjoy this herb, it’s best to grow it from seed. Make sure to save some seed so you can grow it again in the fall.

adding mixed herbs to the pot outside the kitchen door. Fresh Fines Herbs are always at the ready.

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Todays’s Harvest Basket 5/24

I gathered our dinner directly from the garden today.

Still gathering cool season crops. Peas, radishes, green onions, kale, chervil and cilantro.

The egg basket is over flowing, so we will have a picnic favorite, herb deviled egg with dinner tonight. I have lots to lacy-leaved chervil and picked extra for my morning omelet. Delicate chervil is only in the garden for another week or so. It is my favorite fair weather herb.

What’s for Dinner?

  • Kale salad with green onions, home-made herb vinaigrette, topped with hemp seeds and currants.
  • Deviled farm fresh eggs sprinkled with chervil and chives.
  • Open-faced radish sandwiches, a springtime-only special: Simply fresh thin-sliced sourdough or baguette, fresh butter, salt, thin sliced radishes.

Chervil Anthriscus cerefolium, mild flavored, delicate lacy leaves. If you don’t grow your own, you probably will not have the privilege of  enjoying this fresh herb in the spring and fall.

I use chervil (pronounced SHER-vil) in delicate dishes, like tomorrows breakfast omelet. Sprigs of chervil will top the deviled eggs and, in a non-mayonnaise based potato salad.

Chervil is a delicate annual, growing only in cool weather. It’s a great herb for succession planting. Add a few seed to the garden every week in the spring to extend the season as long as possible.

Fines herbes, the French herb blend uses chervil. The combo includes chervil,  parsley, chives and French tarragon. Fines herbes (pronounced feens-erb) is best used fresh because the herbs lose a lot of flavor when dried.

Sweet and tender spring peas will be tossed into a stir-fry or used as dippers on a veggie tray.

2 Cool Seasons
Remember, anything you grow as an early spring crop can be grown a a fall crop. Sometimes veggies are even more successful since the soil is already warm. This fall, give peas a chance.

 

Spring kitchen bonus.

Pick chervil, chives and cilantro often, to encourage plant growth. Keep the cut stems in a glass of water on the kitchen counter, making it easy to add fresh herbs to any dish.

The peas, radish and herbs are grown from seed purchased at Renee’s Garden Seed.

When fresh herbs are not available, get Fines Herbes at Penzeys Spices .

My handy husband, Jeff, made the harvest basket.

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Today’s Harvest Basket 5/11/17

Spring greens

First basket of the season!

Baby turnips, green onions, cilantro and mustard greens. PBH

Baby turnips, green onions, cilantro and mustard greens, These little turnips will change your mind if you don’t like turnips. They are small, radish-sized Japanese turnips. Sweet and good raw, eaten like a radish, grated into a slaw or served on a tray of roasted root vegetables.

The seeds are from Renee’s Garden. Always order enough seed so you can grow a spring crop and a fall crop. It’s the only turnip I grow. They don’t take up much space and are ideal for succession planting. Great for filling in any blank spots in the garden.

(FYI, Savor The Luxury Of Growing Your Own. Aromatic Herbs 20% Off Through 5/31. Order cool season crops and the herbs to freeze or dry in the fall.)

The rest of the basket was mostly thinnings.

I thinned the mustard greens. This early in the season, they are mild, but still a little spicy.These  greens are tender for a quick stir-fry addition to any mix of leafy greens or add a couple of leaves into the salad bowl mix. Mustard greens are too hot for me, but a little in a mix of greens or salad greens will add a bit of sparkle.

I always plant onions too close, planning on thinning the green onions until they are 6 inches apart.  My thought, you can never have too many onions.

Red Torpedo Onions A favorite. Makes beautiful pickled onions.

Keep a few green onions chopped in the fridge when green onions are abundant. If the are ready to use, I use more onions in salads, loaded baked potatoes, potato salad, topping enchiladas.

Alliums, in my garden a red, white, Cipolini onions, leeks, garlic and chives. The fall-planted garlic looks like we will have a good crop this summer. Thinned baby leeks made the best onion soup this spring.

Cilantro is popping up every where from volunteer seed that made it through the winter. It is really growing like weeds between the beds and showing up in surrounding  raised beds.

Plant this herb a few seed every two weeks so you always have it for canning and recipes. Usually cilantro is long gone from the garden when tomato salsa making season happens in August.

Thy hand hath provided.com has a genius recipe  for Cilantro sauce, a condiment frozen in tiny portions, ready when ever you need. Gather up this fresh herb now and you will have all you need for you tomato and salsa recipes.  I faithfully return to this site when it is tomato soup canning time.

You will get better production and higher yields per plant with properly spaced plants.

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Getting Ready For Canning Season

Grow your own herbs

Time to refresh the spice cabinet.

Time to gather all the herbs and spices needed for canning and pickling this summer. I’m planting several herbs, including half a dozen different types of basil. And, I’m putting in an order to Penzeys to refresh the spice cabinet.

Learning about herbs

Add 1 bay leaf. Really? I always believed bay leaves were a lie. A pretentious herb. Maybe because they didn’t make a single bit of difference in any recipe when I was a kid. Pot roast tasted exactly the same whether you a 1 or 2 or 0 to the pot roast.

But the Kroeger tin box the held the little grey bay leaves above the stove had been there for years in the hot, humid kitchen. So now, 50 years later, I refresh my bay leaf supply every year.

Bay Leaves are Bay leaves are also spiciest when dried. But old bay leaves are tasteless. Today I proved to myself that bay leaves (Laurus nobilis)  do have taste and are also a fragrant herb.

Herbal Taste Tests

First, dump those herbs that have been in your cabinets for years. If you can smell nothing or haven’t used that jar of herbs for a couple of years, toss them. Buy a small amount of fresh herbs.

1. Bay Leaf  Tea

Add a few bay leaves to 2 cups of boiling water. Steep 5 minutes.

Do this test with any herb to learn about its unique flavor. Make a cup of tea. That’s it.  A cup of hot water and a tablespoon of herbs. Let it steep 5 minutes, taste the herb flavored water.

I add several leaves to a pint jar of hot water, put a lid on it and wait 5 minutes. There is enough tea for two cups, if you can talk someone into taste testings with you.

2. Herb Rice

Herb scented rice. Add a few bay leaves to the rice cooker at the beginning of the cycle.

Do this test to check how this herbs flavors food. Make a batch of plain white or brown rice. Add 2 or 3 bay leaves (or other herb) and cook the rice with no other seasonings, except an optional small amount of salt.

I use a rice cooker. So, I use a cup of rice and two cups of water, 3 bay leaves. When the rice is cooked, fluff and taste it plain and with a pinch of salt. I get light floral scent and mild earthy hint of flavor in every bite of white rice.

3. Herb Omelet

1 tsp butter, 2 eggs, 1 Tbs chopped chervil, 1 Tbs shredded cheese.

My favorite spring mornings begin on the deck or patio. Make the coffee and an omelet. Maybe through a slice of bread in the toaster. Dine outdoors with the humming birds and bees buzzing about. Songbirds sing and your plan for the day becomes clear.

Herb omelets are one of the delights of spring breakfasts on the patio.

A great way to educate yourself to the unique flavors of a fresh spring herb is in an omelet.

2 eggs

a buttered skillet with 1 teaspoon of butter.

1 Tbs fresh chopped chervil (or chives, cilanto, parsley*.)

1 Tbs shredded Swiss cheese ( or American or mozzarella, optional.)

The first herbs to pop up in the spring are some of the most delicately flavored herbs of all. A simple 2 egg omelet with a sprinkling of a teaspoon or two of fresh chopped herbs. Maybe add a tablespoon of mild shredded cheese, salt, pepper.

Herb omelet or scrambled eggs with chopped fresh herbs, it’s your choice. Try this method with just one herb per omelet to learn about the flavor of each herb.

I’m not going to get into how to make an omelet or scramble eggs. My mission is growing and enjoying herbs. An omelet made with fresh spring herbs is flavorful enough that you don’t need a lot of filling ingredients.

With more experience, experiment with herb combinations. My favorites are Fine Herbes: chives, tarragon, and parsley. Or any combination of these herbs.

This breakfast tastes even better served on the patio with a big cup of hot, black French roast coffee.

My favorite herb omelet is chervil and Swiss. A couple of slices of buttered and salted baguette with radish slices complete the perfect spring meal.

1 large Bay Leaf = 1/2 teaspoon broken = 1/4 teaspoon crushed

Substitute one fresh leaf for every two dried leaves.

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Discover the flavor of  herbs with herb vinegar.

I show case single herbs in my herb vinegars. Save the flavor of delicate spring herbs by making herb vinegar while herbs are at their peak.

If you don’t think herbs have much to offer, it could be because you tasteless herbs are old. Buy a small starter plant and try some fresh herb leaves in your recipes this season. I don’t think there would be any point to raising tomatoes if  I didn’t also grow basil.

* Seed Sources

Renee’s Garden – Annual herbs are grown from seed. Chervil, cilanto, parsley and dill. Plus, chives, parsley calendula and nasturtiums.

Bay Leaves

The plant’s Roman name, Laurus nobilis, comes from the word laudare, to praise, and a crown of bay leaves has been a sign of  honor, as in the Olympic Crown of Bay Leaves.

 

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Radish Report

The vegetable garden update. See What’s Growing Now, Including Today’s Harvest Basket and Plant Tips

The first garden harvests every year will fill the salad bowl. By May,  there will be a steady source of radish, green onion and lettuce. I’m growing a lot of Sanguine Ameliore lettuce. Greens are on their way.

Lettuces, radish and onion are waiting to be thinned out in My Garden Post*.

Keep thinning chard, mustard and, kale. Those baby leaves will also go into the salad bowl.

Try growing Watermelon or “Beauty Heart” radish from China. Since they do best in cool weather, I may have to wait and replant in the fall. I’ll wait to see if I have any left.

When you order radish seed, order extra. They are always a good spring salad accent and I will always plant them in a fall garden. Red globe radishes have plenty of potassium, vitamin C and folate.

Because they come up so quickly, use radishes as row markers as you plant other vegetables in the garden. Mix them and plant in with lettuce and spinach greens. Peppery radish sprouts are great on salad or sandwiches.

Watermelon radishes go bigger than the traditional spring radish.

Other pink, red, purple radishes are coming up sparsely. A squirrel is digging them up fast than I plant them. But I continue to reseed and have covered the radish seed with chicken wire.

We have had a few prized crunchy radishes for salads. I’m waiting for the day there are enough radishes to serve with butter and bread.

Radish Sandwiches With Butter And Salt

Heavenly spring flavor, simply a baguette, butter, salt, radish and a few herbs. It’s a very French picnic recipe. Add chives or chervil and maybe a leaf or two of arugula for a sandwich.

First baguette, butter, salt, radish and chives sandwiches of the spring. PBH.

Nobody can do Radishes with Butter and Salt any better than Ina Garten. Her version is a lovely way to show off your beautiful whole radishes.

I’ll continue to plant radish seed until it gets too hot to grow them. Then, I’ll plant them again in September and October. Fall radishes are mild and crisp.

My beautiful radishes are from

Renee’s Garden SeedsThe finest heirloom, certified organic seeds for the home garden.

Mary’s Heirloom SeedsHeirloom, open-pollinated, non-gmo untreated & organic seeds

  • My Garden Post will be replanted with dwarf tomatoes and herbs for the summer. You can buy My Garden Post from this Oh! Grow Up Blog. We both benefit. You save money and I get credit for your order. Use this code: 50offMGP at checkout to save $50 for My Garden Post with Drip Irrigation.

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