Q. I know you do not approve of the
use of herbs since I heard you saying on radio that "your old
Tennessee Mama didn't put grass and weeds in your food when
you were growing up" but I do like to season my cooking with
some herbs. I grow some for fresh use and, of course, use some
dried. Are there any other techniques for herb use that you
might know of?
A. It seems that you have correctly
evaluated my feelings about herbs -- it's not my fault, it's
my old Mama's fault in Tennessee for not "properly culturing"
me! But I still have some suggestions to offer. You mentioned
fresh and dried use of herbs but do not forget the possibility
of freezing fresh herbs. Probably the easiest way to preserve
herb flavors is in vinegar. If you have enough cuttings, stuff
a jar full, crushing them with a wooden spoon. Fill the jar
with white, cider or wine vinegar that has been heated to the
boiling point. This method will give the vinegar a highly concentrated
flavor of herbs.
If fewer cuttings are available, use six tablespoons
of chopped herbs to a pint of vinegar. Steep in a brightly lit
area, but not direct sunlight, for two weeks. Use vinegar on
vegetables, salads, meat and anything else you would season
with salt and pepper.