Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Fun and Clean Uses for Fresh Herbs

Summer's bounty brings us so many amazing things; porch cook-outs, refreshing beer cocktails, succulent tomatoes and best of all, copious amounts of fresh herbs.
Name them and I have them in my garden: basil (genovese and opal), rosemary, lemon balm, sage, mint (orange, apple, chocolate and ginger), lemon thyme, dill, lavender, lemon verbena, oregano, parsley and even chives!

Besides boring 'ol pesto and pasta sauce, here are a few fun and creative ways to use up your fresh herbs:

Make a fabulous centerpiece! Why not, herbs are beautiful and fragrant.

Snip herbs such as basil, oregano and sage and place them into mini muffin cups or ice cube trays; top them with olive oil and freeze them. Pop out the little oil cubes and store them frozen in a plastic baggie. Use them as a sauce starter, to saute veggies or toss them into a pot of soup!
Use a mortar and pestle to crush herbs such as mint, lemon verbena and rosemary; add them to a jar of sugar and store tightly for a 1-2 weeks. Stir sugar every so often. Remove herbs from sugar once infused.
These little jars can make great inexpensive gifts.Tie a ribbon around it and a sprig of herbs-voila! Experiment with other fun sugars such as turbinado, coconut crystals and sucanat. They make great sugars for rims of cocktails.
Place fresh herbs such as mint, basil, lemon balm and lemon verbena in a tea pot; pour hot water over top and steep for a few minutes. Sweeten to taste, serve warm or try it over ice!

Chop mint and basil; place in ice cube trays and pour lemonade over top of each. Freeze and serve in your favorite summer beverage, seltzer water or a cocktail.

And that is what summer's bounty is all about!

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