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Preserving Know-how

Preserving Know-how/ Preserving Recipes/ Spring

Spring Greens and Dressing

With the unusually warm weather we’ve had, the greens are peeking up heralding the delights of spring salads, lighter meals, and herb-infused dressings. There’s nothing like the taste of spring greens in a simple dressage. They are bright, fresh, full of taste and texture and make a super meal as the days warm.

If you got a jump-start on planting by starting seeds indoors, you might already have arugula and spinach. If not, you will soon will as the garden grows. Or stop by the Kimberley General Store or Sideroad Farm for fantastic spring greens. Soon asparagus will be out too, according to Farmer Morris in Barrie. And who can say no to ramps, young Dandelion leaves, purslane, colourful violets and the myriad herbs shooting up. We’ve got the makings of a great salad!

So that brings us to the question of vinaigrettes. What dressing suits the beautiful fresh spring salad? Many say, “keep it simple”. The taste is really in the greens so don’t cover it with big bold flavour. According to many chefs, a good vinaigrette is all about balance: acid to oil, sweetness to salt, an emulsifier and seasoning to taste. In general terms, the ratio of acid to oil is one to three. It isn’t essential to add an emulsifier like mustard, but it does help to make a creamier dressing. For sweet balance, go easy: just a dash of honey, maple syrup, a small teaspoon of home-made jam, jelly, or conserve, or even honey-mustard can do the trick. If you want to add minced shallots, or wild leeks, chopped herbs or zest of citrus, go for it.  I make herb vinegars like tarragon or chive blossom which adds a subtle flavour to the vinaigrette, but you can use white wine vinegar, white balsamic, apple cider, red wine, rice wine, balsamic, sherry or champagne vinegar. There are no doubt great recipes around, but here’s mine to go with a young spring salad.

Spring Salad Dressing

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  • 1 TBSP herb vinegar (choose what you have)
  • 3 TBSP cold pressed olive oil
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard (or use honey-mustard for sweetness)
  • ¼ tsp honey (or switch up the sweet addition – whatever moves you)
  • Salt and pepper to taste.



Sometimes I add more Dijon for a more mustardy dressing like you might find in a French bistro. If you increase mustard, remember it is salty so adjust the S&P at the end just before serving.


Whisk the dressing in the salad bowl for 30 seconds before adding the greens. Gently toss the greens with your hands. Season.


For the greens, collect or purchase young spring greens. Add Dandelion leaves and chopped wild leek leaves if you have them. Colour is important so adding violets (unsprayed of course), Dandelion petals or chive blossoms is a great idea. Make it a meal? Sure, add steamed or grilled asparagus, goat cheese, shaved parmesan, hard boiled eggs quartered, toasted nuts, good quality tuna in oil, or add grilled fish or meat on the side. And voila’, a salad to celebrate Spring.


Preserving Know-how/ Spring

Putting the Maple into Conserves

It is time for the first harvest of the year! Yes, maple syrup is running and folks are busy in their sugar shacks preparing the liquid gold. Canada produces 85% of the world’s maple syrup and production is growing. 2022 was the largest production year in history with 211 million pounds of syrup generating 1.1 billion dollars for the Canadian economy. I guess we should all give thanks to the maple forests and to all the producers, large and small, for adding to our culinary delights as well as our economy.

If you watched the Netflix series called “dirty money” you will have seen an episode on the great Canadian maple syrup heist! Over the course of a few months in 2011-12, 9,571 barrels of maple syrup were stolen from a large Quebec storage facility. The take was estimated to be valued at $18 million dollars. The perpetrators were eventually discovered, fined, put on probation, or jailed.  Not quite the Great Train Robbery of Great Britain, but still a good story for the Canadian history books. It’s certain this caper underscores how valuable maple syrup is.

There are so many wonderful ways to use maple syrup in cooking, it’s difficult to choose one focus. I think of maple syrup as rich in taste and texture. To me, it has a natural affinity with the richness of conserves.

Conserves are jams kicked up a notch or two. They generally have the addition of dried fruit and/or nuts. Sometimes citrus or spices are added. They can be either sweet or savoury. The sweet ones are excellent with scones or cheeses. Savoury ones are good accompaniments to meats or charcuterie.

Recently I’ve made a couple of great conserves with maple syrup. One combined maple syrup and blueberries with walnuts. It was so good my friend said she simply ate it by the spoonful. This week I made a very nice recipe published by Foodland Ontario for Maple Walnut Pear Conserve (slightly adapted below). Winter pears like Anjou, Bartlett or Bosc are available and can sometimes be found at reasonable prices. Bake up some biscuits or scones and enjoy this winter preserve.

Maple syrup on pancakes or ice cream, thrown in the snow to make maple-sicles, added to a recipe in lieu of brown sugar or profiled in a lovely winter conserve, maple syrup can’t be beat as one of nature’s great gifts.

Maple Walnut Pear Conserve

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  • Yield 6 cups
  • 4 cups chopped peeled winter pears
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • 1 package regular pectin crystals
  • 3.5 cups sugar
  • ¾ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts toasted (option: omit nuts and add ½ cup dried cranberries, raisins, or cherries)



In a pot, mix pears with lemon juice. Stir in pectin with ¼ cup of the measured sugar. Bring to a boil stirring constantly. Add remaining sugar and return to the boil. Boil hard 1 minute. Remove from heat, stir in maple syrup and nuts. Ladle into hot 250 ml jars leaving ¼ headspace. Clean rims of the jars and attach lids and rings to “finger-tip” tight. Process in a water bath or atmospheric steam canner for 10 minutes adjusting for altitude. Turn off heat, remove canner lid and let jars rest in the canner for 5 additional minutes. Remove jars to a heat proof surface and let rest for 24 hours. Check the seal. Label and store.


Preserving Know-how/ Spring

Spring Into Gardening: Plan A Tea Garden

I have been a keen vegetable gardener for years, but during the pandemic I turned my attention to creating a tea garden. My interest has continued because herbal teas (technically called tisanes) are super tasty, have healing powers, are easy to grow and create a sort of Zen feeling when growing, foraging, preserving, and enjoying.

Tea gardens and even “bartenders’ gardens” are currently on-trend. I started my tea garden with some basics but this year I am eager to learn more and expand. I got in touch with my friend and neighbour Ben Caesar who owns Fiddlehead Nursery outside of Kimberley. His expertise is perennial edibles. While talking with Ben I thought about three ways to approach the tea garden: foraging, perennials, and annuals.

Some of Ben’s picks and suggestions: Common perennial herbs enjoyed for tea include Bee Balm (bergamot), lemon balm, angelica, camomile, anise hyssop, sweet and bronze fennel, sweet Sicily, lavender, and the various mint varieties. Ben loves chocolate mint. I also have spearmint and peppermint which I enjoy in combination as a tea or used for mint jelly. Mint is a vigorous spreader as I’m sure you know, so it is best to create barriers to prevent their spread. I used old paper planting pots buried in the garden. Ben uses aluminum flashing buried vertically to 1 inch above the ground which works very well. Other perennials and annuals such as rosemary, thyme, sage, lemon verbena and coriander are also great additions to teas. And let’s not forget flowers! Rugosa roses are used both for petals and hips, echinacea flowers boost the immune system, cooked Elderberry flowers made into syrup are good as a cold tonic, marvelous blue mallow magically changes to pink with the addition of lemon juice.

From the natural environment, there are many easily found herbs and plants that are used for teas. Dandelion leaves, dried roots and flowers are more than a garden weed! Don’t spray! Dandelion is good for you! Stinging nettle is a tasty edible and immune system booster. Common sumac (not poisonous sumac) makes a pretty pink healthy tea. The basswood flower and wild mint (also called corn mint, river mint) are also good for tea. Wild blackberry or raspberry leaves and fruit add sweetness to tea, and many other plants can be foraged using a reputable foraging guide.

Use fresh herbs and plants or dry for later use. Your basic brew is 1 TBSP fresh chopped herbs or 1 tsp dried to 1 cup of boiling water stepped for 10 minutes.

Why not expand your tea garden with annuals, and perennials and add to the harvest some foraged herbs and plants. To find out more check out:  How to create an edible, perennial landscaping Extensive information about medicinal and culinary herbs Ten things to Forage in Ontario: An edible timeline

If you already grow a tea garden, share your top picks with us! If you’re new to gardening, try a tea garden in a pot, on a terrace or in your veggie or flower garden. Plan ahead so when the spirt moves, you can put the kettle on and enjoy a wholesome and tasty brew.

Note: Remember that most herbs have medicinal effects and may have contraindications like avoiding catnip during pregnancy or avoiding specific herbs when taking certain medications. Check with a pharmacist or herbalist.



Preserving Know-how/ Winter

Hot Cocoa and Marshmallows

t’s Spring break and the snow has returned to remind us winter is not yet over. If you are out enjoying winter activities, there’s nothing like coming home to a cup of hot cocoa topped with marshmallows. Making your own marshmallows is not difficult, and it’s fun and yummy. Also, you can make them without additives found in the commercial variety.

It is fascinating that both marshmallows and hot cocoa drinks have their origins 2000 years ago but in different parts of the world. Drinking chocolate was an important part of Mayan culture where it was generally served cold. On the other side of the world, in Egypt, marshmallows were created by extracting sap from the mallow plants which grew in marshes. The mallow sap was used for medicinal purposes during the 15th and 16th centuries before it found its way into the fluffy form in the candy shops of France during the 18th century. It wasn’t until the mid 1900s when commercial marshmallows were created thanks to the invention of the extrusion apparatus. It seems that cultures around the world have enjoyed cocoa and marshmallows for millennia.

Making marshmallows at home requires a little equipment and a touch of patience but it is worth the effort!

Join the centuries long tradition of hot cocoa and marshmallows. Top a mug of hot chocolate with a homemade marshmallow or stoke the bonfire and have a s’mores party to celebrate the holiday.

Warning: I gave a bag of marshmallows to a friend to take home to her family. She ate the whole lot before getting home! Really, they are that good!


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  • 1 cup cold water divided                               
  • 3 packages gelatin
  • 1.5 cups sugar                                                
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • ¼ tsp salt                                                        
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ¼ cup icing sugar                                           
  • vegetable spray



1. Pour ½ cup cold water in bottom of a stand mixer with whisk attachment. Sprinkle gelatin on top and allow it to soften for 15 minutes.


2. Prepare a 9 x 13-inch pan: Lightly spray with vegetable spray. Mix icing sugar and corn starch and dust the pan heavily with half of the mixture.


3. In a pot, place sugar, remaining ½ cup water, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a boil. Swirl the pan but don’t stir. This syrup needs to reach exactly 240 degrees.


4. On low speed, mix the gelatin mixture and gradually add in the hot syrup.


5. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 13 minutes. Add vanilla.


6. Spray a spatula with vegetable oil and quickly dump the marshmallow mix into the pan. Smooth the top. Sprinkle the top with the remaining icing sugar-cornstarch mix. Cover with a tea towel and let rest to dry for 24 hours.


7. Turn the marshmallows onto a large cutting board and cut large or small cubes using either a chef’s knife or pizza cutter sprayed with vegetable oil. Make sure the cubes are well covered with the icing sugar-cornstarch mixture to prevent sticking. The marshmallows will last 2-3 weeks but they won’t because they are just too darn good!


Preserving Know-how/ Winter

Winter Salad

Winter Salad

Although I love summer salads, winter is a great opportunity to be a bit creative. Some people continue to grow greens indoors through the winter but many of us depend on market or grocery store produce. Hardy greens like kale, spinach, arugula mixed with radicchio, or a touch of endive add some bitterness that can be balanced by adding fruit or a citrus vinaigrette. Shaved or grated root vegetables with or without cabbage or bok choy can provide a colourful salad. Apple, celery, and fennel with a cider vinaigrette is a favourite topped with toasted walnuts. Adding nuts and cheese to the salad or roasted vegetables like squash or sweet potato can be a nourishing and satisfying dinner.  In winter, I think we appreciate great colour, texture, sweet-tart balance, and variety in our salads more than at any other time of year.

 In late summer, I made this “Winter Salad Pickle” from garden vegetables. It was so good, and, in such demand, I have since made five more batches including one last week. I happened to find a two-for-one sale on cauliflower and couldn’t resist making one more batch. This pickle is good on its own, as an accompaniment or on top of a salad of winter greens. Even folks who aren’t keen on vegetables (aka my husband) like this pickle. The recipe was created by Canadians Top and Howard, authors of the Small-Batch Preserving books. It can be doubled if you have the produce and the space in your canner.

 Whatever salads you are enjoying this winter, try adding this “Winter Salad Pickle” to your repertoire. The colour combination and nice crunch add some sunshine to the winter meal. Bon Appetit.

Winter Salad Pickle

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  • 2 cups cauliflower florets
  • 1 cup pearl onions or small onions quartered
  • 1 cup thickly sliced celery
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 cup thickly sliced zucchini (remove seedy centres)
  • 1 cup yellow or green beans trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup red peppers cut into 1-inch squares
  • (a total of 8 cups of vegetables)
  • 3 cups white wine or herb vinegar (at least 5% acid)
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 2 tsp pickling salt
  • 1/8 tsp paprika



In a bowl place cauliflower, onions, celery, and carrots. In a second bowl place zucchini, beans, and peppers. Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and paprika in a large pot and bring to a full rolling boil. Add the cauliflower, onions, celery, and carrots. Bring back to a boil. Turn off heat and add remaining vegetables. With a slotted spoon fill hot canning jars to ½ inch headspace. Ladle in the brine. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace. Clean the jar tops, affix lids and rings to finger-tip tight. Process jars in a water-bath canner or atmospheric steam canner ten minutes for 250 or 500ml jars and 15minutes for liter jars. As always, adjust for altitude and follow reputable canning instructions to ensure safe processing.


Preserving Know-how/ Winter

Tomatoes in Winter

Tomatoes in Winter

Tomatoes in Winter

If you’re a preserver, this is a great time of year to crack out the tomatoes in whatever form you have them. Like many of you, I can, dry, freeze, or turn them into a pesto-like format after roasting with garlic and olive oil. My motto is “never waste a tomato” regardless of season.

Being over-loaded with frozen roasted tomato sauce I made deliveries to friends and my daughter-in-law. Of course, the tomato sauce is delicious with pasta, but my daughter-in-law asked about ideas for using the sauce without pasta (New Year’s resolution!). So, here is what I shared.

Tomato Sauce

Use your own tomato sauce or begin with canned or frozen tomatoes, seasoned, and reduced to a thick sauce. Add fresh or dried herbs such as parsley, basil, oregano. The recipes below are for two, but you can double or triple the size depending on the number of mouths you are feeding.

Tomato Poached Halibut or Cod

Place one cup tomato sauce in a skillet. If too thick to simmer without burning, add a couple of TBSP of water. Cut the fish into 3-4 oz pieces. Season them with salt and pepper. Put them in the simmering sauce and cook for about 8 minutes with the lid on. Spoon sauce over top.

Mediterranean Shrimp

Prepare sauce as above. Add ½ tsp of oregano. Once simmering, place cleaned and deveined large shrimp into the pan in a single layer. Cook for 3 min and flip. When you flip the shrimp add crumbled feta cheese (about 1 oz per person). Cook for another 3 min. The feta will melt making a creamy sauce. Serve fish or shrimp with salad, bread or atop of rice.

Quick Baked Parmesan

Slice zucchini and eggplant in long strips. Salt the eggplant for 15 minutes. Put veggies on parchment paper and bake at 400 until they are cooked with crispy edges. Put the sauce under and over the veggies in layers like lasagna. Top with fresh mozzarella and a hefty sprinkle of parmesan. Bake 20 min or until the cheese is melted. 

Poached Eggs in Tomato Sauce

Many cuisines around the world have a recipe for poached eggs in tomato sauce. In Mexico, you will find the delicious dish called “divorced eggs” using both tomato and tomatillo sauces. In Africa and Israel, the Shakshuka is a dish of poached eggs in spicy tomato sauce often with chopped vegetables, cumin, hot peppers and feta cheese. The dish is served in the cast iron or other frying pan with sour dough bread to mop up all the yummy sauce and eggs. You can create your own version of poached eggs in tomato sauce and serve for breakfast or dinner.

Tomatoes are most wonderful in the summer and early fall but having them in the pantry or freezer through the winter months is not only handy, but cost-effective and healthy. This is the season to celebrate the versatility of this fruit. Enjoy.

Share your ideas for tomato sauce without pasta! Send them along to me at:



Preserving Know-how/ Winter

Soup’s On!


We’ve certainly had some remarkable weather ups and downs, but we know the New Year will bring cold temperatures, snow and a desire hunker down. How better to enjoy winter than with a steaming hot bowl of soup and some homemade bread?

According to culinary history, the word soup dates to post-classical Latin “suppare” or soak. The term later appeared in the French language as “soupe”. In the Middle Ages cooks spoke of soup as any liquid that was poured over bread. The word supper is also derived from this term. In general terms, “soup” applies to any liquid, savoury dish. All cultures have soup as a culinary foundation.

If you’re going to the effort of making a big batch of soup, why not make extra for later use? To preserve soup, there are basically three methods: Freezing, dehydrating or pressure canning.


The easiest, least time-consuming method is to freeze. Freeze soups in a wide-mouth Mason jar or food grade plastic freezer container. Leave an inch headspace to allow for expansion. To prevent ice crystal formation, crinkle up some parchment paper and place it on top of the soup. Always cool the soup, then refrigerate before freezing. Label and date the frozen soup. Thaw in the fridge and heat to 165 degrees before serving.


Most of us have bought a “Cup of Soup” or Lipton package of soup. These are examples of dehydrated soups, and this can be done at home. One approach is to dehydrate vegetables, cooked rice or potatoes, and seasoning. Rehydrate in boiling water. Broth and soups can also be dehydrated after reducing to a condensed or pureed form and then laying out on a Silpat sheet or parchment lined rack in the dehydrator as you would do when making fruit leathers. The dehydrated broth can be ground into a powder or simple broken up into pieces and stored in a cool, dark, dry place. The dehydrated soup puree can be stored as you would a fruit leather.

Pressure Canning

Because soup is made with low acid foods like vegetables, meat, poultry, and fish, pressure canning is necessary for safe long-term storage. Pressure canning raises the internal temperature to 240 degrees which is required to kill heat resistant bacteria such as those that cause botulism. Always follow reputable recipes and proper methods (see Bernardin, National Center for Home Food Preservation or refer to “So Easy to Preserve”). There are many soups suitable for pressure canning making instant meals easily accessible from the pantry in a matter of minutes. Do not pressure can soups made with pasta, rice, flour, cream, milk, or any thickening agents as these agents interfere with heat penetration and therefore safety. You can add them just before serving if you wish.

Winter is the time for hot soup and crusty bread. Home-made stocks and broths, hearty chowders, simple garden vegetables or instant soup mixes ready for winter camping can all be available for quick suppers, lunches, or picnics. Call the family: “Soups on”.



Preserving Know-how/ Winter

Celebratory Treats

Celebratory Treats

This is the season for special treats. Whether it’s Christmas day, a holiday party or bringing in the New Year, there are many reasons to celebrate. My recent preserving adventures have led to some wonderful new recipes.

Raspberry-Rhubarb Juice with Prosecco

My daughter-in-law created this special cocktail using the raspberry-rhubarb juice I made in the spring and summer. Think of this a pink Mimosa; pretty, festive, and delicious.  You can always use POM or raspberry juice as well. For a non-alcoholic version, replace Prosecco with sparkling water. For extra panache, drop in a fresh raspberry.

Cranberry Port Conserve with Walnuts

I recently made this recipe created by Topp & Howard. A conserve almost always includes nuts and often citrus. This is outstanding and would be a great accompaniment to turkey, chicken, or capon but also with ham, duck or beef.

4 cups cranberries 2 cups sugar

¼ cup Port ½ cup finely chopped orange peel

1/3 cup raisins ¼ cup chopped walnuts

Combine cranberries, sugar, and Port in a large pot. Bring to a boil and cook uncovered until cranberries pop. Add orange peel and raisins. Reduce heat and cook for about 15 minutes until a light gel point is reached. Remove from heat and stir in nuts. For long-term storage, process in a water bath or atmospheric steam canner for 10 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before removing from canner.

However you celebrate, enjoy the season. All the best for the holidays and Happy New Year.

For more information:

Tarts: The Finishing Touch

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I love making small French-style tarts using my preserves. A couple of weeks ago I made tarts using my preserved pears, maple roasted rhubarb, apple sauce, and, of course, pear mincemeat (pictured here). In a recent Jamie Oliver show, he used ready-made tart shells and lined them with raspberry jam and topped them with a light meringue baked to golden colour. Tarts are easy, flexible and are part of any celebratory meal. I usually use a pate brisee for the crust but for the gluten free in my family, I searched for a recipe that would work. I adapted this pastry recipe from by Claire Tansey’s in her book called “Uncomplicated”. She calls this forgiving pastry and it is. It can be rolled out many times without getting tough. It also lasts well and is flavourful. The gluten-free version is very good.


  • 1.5 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour (or regular flour)
  • 1/8 tsp salt ½ cup cream cheese cold and cubed
  • ½ cup butter cold and cubed



Combine flour and salt in food processor. Pulse to combine. Add cream cheese and butter and process until the dough comes together in a ball.  Wrap in plastic and chill for at least ½ an hour. Roll out or freeze this pastry for future use. Be creative using your own preserves from the panty.



Preserving Know-how/ Winter

Let it Snow

Mulling Spice Mix

With the first big snow under our belts, the motivation to plan for the Holidays is kicked into high gear. I find that one of the most wonderful things about preserving is using my skills and preserves for creative gifts. I thought I would focus a couple of articles on creating warm, delicious, and satisfying gifts and treats for the season.

Last week I dehydrated oranges and lemons for several purposes, one of which was to make mulling spice mix for gifts. The bonus is that the house smells divine as the citrus releases its aroma while drying. The dried fruit can be used to brighten up garlands or centre pieces, added to tea, used to embellish a cake, or simmered in a pot of water before guests arrive.

I was fascinated to read that mulled wine in particular dates to the Roman Empire where honey and spices were added to wine in winter. Many consider mulled wine or the wassail to be distinctly Victorian where it was considered a holiday drink celebrating health, happiness and warmth infused by spices and citrus. Mulled cider was and is considered a British winter celebration drink. The cider carries the apple taste which makes for a lighter beverage. Mulling was eagerly embraced by North Americans. Whether using wine or cider, adding mulling spices produces a flavourful warm winter drink perfect for snuggling up in front of the winter.

For more information:

Mulling Spice Mix

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  • ½ cup dried orange slices broken into small pieces
  • ½ cup dried lemon slices broken into small pieces
  • 6 sticks of 4-inch cinnamon broken into small pieces
  • 4 TBSP ground nutmeg
  • 12 whole cloves
  • 2 tsp cardamon pods
  • 2 TBSP allspice berries
  • 1 TBSP whole black peppercorns
  • 4 – 6 star anise



Dry citrus using a dehydrator (125 for 10 hours) or in the oven on the lowest setting. Slices should be thin with seeds removed.


Mix the mulling spice mix together. Add 2 TBSP mix to 4 cups of cider or red wine and simmer for 5 minutes. Strain and serve with a cinnamon stick and/or the addition of a slice of fresh orange. This recipe produces about 3 cups. Store in airtight containers. This is a super hostess gift to give with the recipe attached.


If you are out-and-about, I will be at the Kimber Valley Farm Christmas Market on November 26th. Check out their website and drop by.



Fall/ Preserving Know-how

Autumn Herb Bouquets

Herb Bouquet

The winds are blowing, the evenings are cool, and the end of season is in sight. But before the weather turns, it’s time to pick the final herb bouquets to dry, freeze and store for winter. Of course, using them fresh while they last is wonderful too!


Some herbs are better frozen than dried because the drying process reduces flavour. A typical freezing method is chopping herbs, adding a bit of water, and placing them in ice cube trays. They can be tossed into a soup, sauce, or pasta. I also chop herbs like mint and cilantro in amounts required for favorite recipes. One or two tablespoons of the herbs are placed in tiny mini paper bags I found at Michael’s. I freeze sage whole in wax paper as shown above and then placed in a small freezer bag. Since I love sage with squash and sweet potatoes, I will often freeze the cooked vegetables with sage and brown butter for use later in the season.


I have a dehydrator, but I don’t bother with it for herbs. They dry well using less energy-consuming methods. For smaller quantities I put bunches in a paper bag with air holes created using a hole punch. Each bag is labelled and tied to my portable laundry rack. Pictured above are various herbs that will be used for home-made Herbes de Provence. For larger quantities such as those I use for teas (mint, lemon balm, lemon verbena, bergamot), I hang them on my main laundry room rack (until there’s no more room for my husband’s shirts!). Drying can also be done in the oven simply by placing herb leaves on a screen, perforated pizza disk or a cookie sheet. Turn on the oven light and leave the herbs to dry overnight. Small amounts can be dried quickly in the microwave. Thyme (my most used herb), basil, parsley, savoury, tarragon, lavender, oregano, marjoram, rosemary, bay laurel and chives are all suitable for drying. If you are drying herbs, thoroughly shake and dust them off but don’t rinse them. The water can contribute to mold growth.


Capturing the end of season herbs is every cook’s delight. Take pesto for example. Use up basil, parsley & chives in a traditional pestos. Get creative with a sage-parsley and toasted walnut pesto. Freeze the pesto. Quick fry sage as an accompaniment to a pre-dinner drink or atop of a sage-butter pasta. Use herbs for a stuffing for pork, poultry, peppers, or cabbage. For a casual dinner, whip up brown butter scrambled eggs with herbs and an end of season green salad. The sky’s the limit.


Finally, it’s time to bring in the herbs indoors. I bring in parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme and bay laurel and put them in a west-facing window. As the sun diminishes, I add a small grow light on a timer to keep the herbs going until spring.

The blessings of the autumn herbs are wonderful. Dry them, freeze them, use them fresh or use them in preserves, and bring them in for the winter! Keep the faith until spring!

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