How to Use and Preserve Summer Herbs

Simple recipes and methods for preserving the bounty of summer herbs.

Few gardening tasks make me happier than gathering enormous bundles of fresh herbs and bringing them into the Simple Bites kitchen.

The bouquets of thyme, lavender, rosemary and other herbs feel like such an abundance of wealth. I keenly feel the responsibility to preserve the bounty for the winter months.

We’ve arrived at that time of year when herbs have taken off and home cooks are wondering what else to do besides pesto and um….more pesto. I’ve responded to enough direct messages over the past few days asking how to use and preserve summer herbs that I figured I may as well write a post on the topic.

My tips on how to use and preserve summer herbs will help you waste less, save more, and eat with flavour.

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Fall Canning: A round-up of simple recipes

Today’s post is filled with simple fall canning projects, and is intended as a nudge toward the canning pot.

My hope is to inspire you to stock one or two of your favourite preserves in the pantry. I’m also sharing my own efforts to date and goals for the next month or so.

If you don’t have a game plan, the early fall months can easily pass you by with little or no canning accomplished, making for a scramble in late fall to put food up while it’s still bountiful – and affordable – in the markets.

As I always say, start small and pace yourself. It’s easy to take on too much, and canning really isn’t a project that should be rushed.

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Preserving with Kids

My home is bustling with excitement today because my parents just flew in from British Columbia for a two week stay.

Our morning table was a babble of voices as we got caught up over a breakfast of baked pears with granola and multiple cups of coffee. It’s wonderful to have the original homesteaders here on my little piece of land. We’re extending summer vacation a bit to visit with them and I won’t be online very much, but I had to tell you about a fun feature we did with popular website Kitchn.

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Cranberry Quince Conserve and a break

We’ve been under fickle skies for the past week.

In the time that it takes to stroll five minutes down my leaf-strewn lane, an afternoon of sunshine is overtaken by clouds. Painted in every colour of grey imaginable, they bring a dreamy rain that slides down the exposed tree trunks and slicks the leaves underfoot. Then, in a moment, rain changes to flurries of snow that never seem to land, only whirl around and around as if lost in the October winds.

The sensation of feeling adrift is a familiar one; being tossed around similarly to those golden-hued leaves abandoned to the tendencies of autumn gales. We have no normalcy these days, I confided to a friend one evening. While many things factor into this unsettling times, a certain upcoming surgery certainly plays a lead role.

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Autumn Pesto Blitz (Oregano-Hazelnut Pesto)

If there is one fall tradition I uphold above all, it is making and freezing pesto. Pumpkin spice lattes we can take or leave, but we simply cannot be without multiple batches of homemade pesto as we head into winter.

I keep an eye on the frost warnings, but generally I harvest my herbs during the last week of September. All the basil is set aside for pesto – and a good bunch of the parsley and oregano, too. We like variety in our pesto; it makes up for the fact that we are decidedly unvaried in our use of the sauce. Yep, you guessed it: pasta. I am the mother of three children, after all.

Pizza closely follows pasta as a vehicle for enjoying homemade pesto. There’s hardly a winter pizza we make that doesn’t take a spoonful of the sauce, like this Brussels Sprout, Walnut & Pesto Pizza. Ohh, la la.

Here’s how my autumn pesto blitz goes down, plus a recipe for a new favourite: Oregano Hazelnut Pesto.

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