This simple little trick will save you lots of steps and make it super easy to always have fresh summer herbs at your fingertips all season long!
Five years ago, after living in Raleigh, NC for almost 40 years, we packed up and moved to the mountains of North Carolina to be near family. Although I've loved almost everything about moving to the Asheville area, it was sad to discover that there was no place for a garden at our new home. Scott had me quite spoiled in Raleigh with his raised bed vegetable gardens and a wonderful herb garden right off of our deck.
Trees, trees, everywhere!
Here, we're surrounded by forests and mountains in all directions. We have a yard but it's pretty shaded and definitely not a place where a garden would thrive.
I've found that there are lots of wonderful farmer's markets in the area though, so it's been easy and fun to find beautiful homegrown fruits and vegetables. And my ingenious husband came to the rescue and found a way for me to continue to have my beloved herbs.
A great solution!
He discovered that the area right around our driveway receives about 6 hours of direct sun. Although it's not suitable for a garden, it's perfect for a Veg Trug. What's a Veg Trug? It's an elevated garden planter, perfect for vegetables (and herbs!) Trugs are designed for gardening on decks or patios (no bending or kneeling!). As you can see in the pics, my herbs are happy little campers!
And see the frame around the top? A greenhouse cover is available to go with it, so you can start planting herbs and/or veggies earlier in spring and extend the growing season later into fall. All in all, it's been a wonderful solution for us!
So what's my trick for keeping these wonderful herbs at my fingertips? Although the herbs are not far from the kitchen, I found that often I would hesitate to run out and clip them, especially if I was in the middle of a recipe or in a hurry to get dinner on the table. Then there are the sudden afternoon mountain downpours that seem to come out of nowhere. And okay, I admit it, some just plain old laziness would keep me from the delicious herbs
Another issue I ran into with fresh herbs is the fact that, if washed them right before using, they tend to be slick, difficult to chop and can get a bit slimy after chopping. Wet, slimy herbs don't make a pretty presentation for a dinner you've spent precious time preparing.
But I learned a clever little trick a number of years ago and I thought I'd share it with you. It's a wonderful way to have clean, dry herbs right at your fingertips all summer long.
This is how it works; about twice a week, early in the day, I go out to my herb garden and clip a bunch of herbs. Fresh herbs love to be snipped and trimmed, and the more you cut away, the faster they seem to grow.
Who needs flowers?
When I bring the summer herbs inside, I give them a good washing either under the faucet or swishing them in a sink full of clean, cool water. I hold on to each bunch at their stems as I wash them, keeping like kinds of herbs together and gently shaking the excess water into the sink when I'm finished.
Then I stick the clean in glasses filled with fresh water. Sometimes I place the glasses into small decorative pots for a pretty look. It helps to fill the pots with inexpensive clear stones to help arrange the herbs. I keep this clean, fresh supply of herbs on the counter or the windowsill within easy reach. They dry quickly and stay fresh for at least 2-3 days (longer on the windowsill). And who needs fresh flowers when you have these beautiful, fresh greens to decorate the kitchen?
Every day or two, I discard the water and replace it with fresh. Any time herbs are needed for a recipe or a garnish, I simply pull the clean, dry herbs from their containers and I'm good to go!
Fresh herbs are quite magical, adding delicious flavor to everything - salads, soups, pasta, bread, grilled entrees, desserts, beverages, etc. Like I said; everything! In fact, one of our all-time most favorite reader recipe is this East Sweet Basil Vinaigrette.
Summer is the time to use them with great abandon as they are readily available and can transform your meals from average to extraordinary.
If you don't have space or time to grow fresh herbs, this method will also work with the bunches of summer herbs sold at farmer's markets. Don't try it with grocery store herbs in the little plastic packets however, they've been away from "their mama" for too long and won't survive.
If you do grow your own fresh herbs, you'll love this simple little trick! It will save you lots of steps and will make it super easy to always have these fragrant, tasty sprigs of deliciousness at your fingertips for cooking all summer long!
Thought for the day:
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23
What we're listening to for inspiration: