Parsley, rosemary, thyme, cilantro, mint, basil, oregano, lavender… the list of herbs we love and their many uses is endless. In the Kripalu Kitchen, we use fresh herbs year-round, but when summer’s warm weather comes, their appeal is even stronger. Fresh herbs add an uplifting layer of flavor and an enlivening aroma. Once you get in the habit of buying fresh herbs (or better yet, growing them yourself) you will find that they are hard to cook without.
Here are some tips on how to use and preserve your fresh herbs this summer:
1. Rinse large leaf herbs, such as parsley, cilantro, and basil, very well. These leaves are large enough that little bits of sand or dirt often get stuck to them.
2. Store fresh herbs upright in the refrigerator with their stems in water. This will ensure that they stay fresh longer—simply change the water every few days.
3. Large leaf herbs can be blended with olive oil and a pinch of salt or garlic to make a great flavor additive to any dish. Store in the refrigerator for the short-term, or place them in an ice cube tray in the freezer for longer-term storage. Just pop out a “flavor cube” when needed.
4. The safest way to infuse oils with any herb is to lightly simmer the herbs in oil for five minutes, then strain the oil through a cheesecloth and store them in the refrigerator.
5. Make a refreshing drink by adding a few fresh herbs (plus cucumber and lemon) to a pitcher of water. It’s much more refreshing than plain water.
6. Enliven your black, green, or rooibos iced tea by steeping it with fresh herbs. My favorite recipe of the season is our Lavender Black Tea with Honey.