Herbal Butters, Oils, and Vinegar

Although there exists traditional herb combinations (and I will list a few), with the array of herbs and flowers available clearly we are limited only by our imaginations. Herb butters, oils, vinegars, even cream cheese, yogurt, and sour cream can be magically transformed.

Herbal butter is easy. Combine one tablespoon of minced fresh herbs to a half-cup (one stick) of softened butter. Then wrap it up in plastic wrap and refrigerate. It stores for about a month in the refrigerator and up to three months in the freezer. Some combinations include:

Mint and Dill

Beebalm and Lovage

Lemon Verbena and Orange Zest

Basil, minced roasted Pepper (hot or sweet), Oregano, Thyme

Marjoram, Garlic

Garlic, Sesame Seed, Chives

Herb vinegars and oils are easy too. Take a half pint of oil or vinegar of your choice and warm it but do not boil it. Place 2 or 3 sprigs of fresh herb or 1 or 2 tablespoons of leaves (per half pint of warmed oil or vinegar) and place the herbs in an empty jar before adding the oil or vinegar. Let it season in a warm place for two weeks before straining it into another bottle. It will keep in a cool, dark place for up to a year. The sky is the limit for herbal vinegar or oil but here are a some suggestions: basil, bay, chervil, dill, chives, lemon balm, fennel, garlic, juniper, lavender, lovage, marjoram, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, burnet, savory, tarragon, and thyme. Some flower candidates include clover, elder, lavender, nasturtium, rose, rosemary, thyme, and violet. As you can see we are already growing a lot of these herbs in our garden. And here are some good combos for herbal vinegar or oil:

Rosemary, Raisins, Orange Peel, Garlic, White Wine Vinegar

Sage, Parsley, Shallots, Red Wine Vinegar

Borage, Dill, Shallots, White Wine Vinegar

Chili, Garlic, Oregano, Cider Vinegar

Mint, Honey, Cardamom Seed, White Vinegar

Coriander Leaf, Garlic, Rice Vinegar

Rose petals, Violet petals, Rice Vinegar

Dill, Nasturtium, Garlic, Cider Vinegar

Savory, Chive blossoms, Cider Vinegar

Fennel Leaf, Garlic, Parsley, White Wine Vinegar

One traditional recipe for herbal vinegar is called Provencal. It includes one to two cloves of garlic and one sprig each of thyme and rosemary. And here is a nice recipe for preserving roasted garlic in olive oil:

4-6 Heads of Garlic

1 pint of Olive Oil

1 sprig Thyme

1 sprig Rosemary

A few Bay leaves

Instructions: After peeling the garlic, wrap it in foil with a little olive oil and bake at 375 degrees for 15 or 20 minutes or until tender. Place the roasted garlic in a wide neck jar with the herbs and pour in enough olive oil to cover completely before closing with the lid. Allow this mix to rest in a cold place for a month or two before using.

Herbs to consider for herb oils include bay, basil, chervil, dill, fennel, garlic, juniper, lavender, lovage, marjoram, mint, parsley, rosemary, sage, savory, and thyme.

Some herb combinations to try in oils include:

Oregano, Thyme, Garlic, Olive Oil

Chervil, Tarragon, Shallots, Peanut Oil

Fresh Ginger, Cardamom Seed, Coriander leaf, Safflower Oil

Saffron, Garlic, Olive Oil

Dill, Garlic, Sunflower Oil

Basil, Chili, Garlic, Olive Oil

Lemon Verbena, Lemon Thyme, Walnut Oil

Lovage, Garlic, Celery leaf, Olive Oil

Reference: Complete Book of Herbs by Leslie Bremness

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