Having a summer garden, a winter greenhouse, or simply a few pots of herbs in our window adds an extra measure of flavor to all we cook. But, if you don’t have the space, or the “thumb,” to grow your own, then simply buy fresh herbs when they are available from the farmers markets, or your favorite grocery store that keeps lots of fresh herbs on hand, designate a day to food prep, and you will have jars and jars, logs and logs, and frozen cubes of flavors to last throughout the year. Just a little planning ahead and you will be ready for many flavorful meals during your busy week.
– Pesto. Made from any fresh herbs. Nuts or seeds, with any oil you prefer. Spices of your choice to kick up the flavor. Toss them all into the blender or food processor, divide up, into individual and seal containers, and you have the perfect flavor packet to add to soups, pasta sauce, salad dressing, or simply spread on a crusty piece of bread!
– Vinegar. Prepared from fresh herbs, garlic, citrus rinds, fruits, such as berries, peaches, melons, toss in a few chili peppers if you like a little heat, leave to seep for a few days in a glass bottle with any of your favorite vinegars: apple cider, rice, champagne, wine, or just plain clear. Strain, and keep in the fridge for any dish you would add vinegar to, only now your vinegar is loaded with flavor!
– Butter or Soft Cheese Logs. Any butter of your choice, soft cheeses, palm oil, or coconut oil. Flavor with absolutely anything you can imagine: olives, roasted peppers, capers, artichokes, fresh herbs, nuts, grated cheeses, chilies, anchovies, garlic, curry, bacon, and citrus are all delicious for savory flavored butter, or brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, nuts, chocolate, stevia, cinnamon, ground apples, pumpkin, nutmeg, fresh ginger, cloves, or even chilies mixed in with the bunch, for sweet flavored butters. Divide the prepared butter or cheese, place on a sheet of parchment paper, and roll into a log. Twist ends and store in the fridge. A flavor filled pat of butter or cheese is ready when you are for anything from veggies, fish, and poultry, to the perfect spread on toast, pancakes, or waffles for a delicious addition to your breakfast or brunch!
Most of these “do-ahead” flavors, can be stored in the fridge for several weeks, or in the freezer for several months.
Containers. Mason jars come in many sizes and are perfect for storing you “do-ahead” flavor enhancers. Or be thrifty and save all your glass jars from supermarket purchases, remove the labels, and there ya go! Zip type baggies are perfect for storing the pestos or logs in the freezer.
An easy individual size portion can be obtained simply by freezing small cubes of your concoctions, and after they are frozen, remove them from the ice trays and store them in zip baggies in the freezer.