by Megan Geierman, Nutrition Program Director
As we fully embrace spring and head into the summer months there are many opportunities to spend more time outdoors, continue hobbies that had been paused during the winter months, and pick up new ones as well. Some of you may have always enjoyed gardening, and some of you may give it a try for the first time this year. No matter how much space you have available, there is something for everyone!
I want to focus on a way that all people can garden…growing an herb garden! Herbs can be grown year-round and used in a variety of ways. Many of us follow a low sodium diet and use herbs and spices as a salt alternative to flavor our food. Why not use homegrown herbs the next time you are cooking?
See below for some tips and tricks!
- When cooking with herbs, a recipe will often specify whether to use fresh herbs or dried. As a rule of thumb, 1 teaspoon of dried herbs is equivalent to 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs.
- Robust herbs such as lavender, oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage, and bay leaf are a little hardier than their tender herb counterparts including basil, cilantro, mint, parsley, dill, and tarragon. Each group has a preference for storage. See below for some suggestions! (Suggestions referenced from FoodandNutrition.org)
- Put ’em on ice. Place one tablespoon chopped robust herbs in each hole of an ice cube tray. Cover to about two-thirds full with broth, oil, white wine, water or coconut water, then freeze. Once frozen, place ice cubes in labeled zip-top freezer bags. Use one or two frozen cubes in soups, stews, sauces, roasted vegetables or omelets.
- Dry with ease. Use kitchen string to tie bunches of herbs and hang them upside down in the kitchen for about a week or until completely dried. To oven-dry, lay sprigs of herbs on a baking sheet and place in the oven set to 180 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour or until herbs are dry. To preserve using the microwave, place four or five dry herb branches between two paper towels and microwave on high for one to two minutes; if herbs are not brittle and dry, microwave in 20-second intervals. Store dried herb leaves in labeled airtight jars away from light.
- Store properly. Tender herbs don’t like frigid temperatures in the back of the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. Store herbs at the front of the top shelf in bags or in jars with the herb stems in a small amount of water (change the water daily).
- Herbs don’t last as long in jars of water, but if you plan to use them within a few days, they will be hydrated and not droopy.
I have included recipes using herbs for inspiration. I would love to hear from you as well! What are some of your favorite ways to use herbs? Send a letter or recipe to Senior Services at the address listed below if you’d like to share! Senior Services, Attn: Megan Geierman, 4700 Dublin Ave., Midland, MI 48642.
Strawberry-Rosemary Yogurt Pop
• 1 cup chopped fresh strawberries
• 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
• 2 tablespoons strawberry preserves
• 2 fresh rosemary sprigs
• 1-1/2 cups vanilla yogurt
• 6 freezer pop molds or paper cups
(3 oz ea.) and wooden lollipop sticks
1) In a small bowl, mix strawberries, vinegar, preserves and rosemary. Let stand 30 minutes; discard rosemary.
2) Spoon 2 tbsp. yogurt and 1 tbsp. strawberry mixture into each mold or paper cup. Repeat layers. Top molds
with holders. If using cups, top
with foil and insert sticks through foil. Freeze until firm.
Cucumber and Dill Salad
• 2 medium cucumbers, sliced 1/8 inch thick
• 1 tablespoon kosher salt
• 1/2 cup white vinegar
• 1/4 cup snipped fresh dill
• 3 tablespoons sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
1) Place cucumber slices in a colander over a plate; sprinkle with salt and toss. Let stand for 15 minutes, stirring once. Rinse and drain well.
2) In a large bowl, combine the vinegar, dill, sugar and pepper. Add cucumbers; toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes before serving.
• 1 cup tightly packed fresh basil or 1 cup cilantro leaf
• 1 cup tightly packed fresh parsley leaves
• 1-2 garlic clove
• 1⁄2 cup olive oil or 1/2 cup vegetable oil
• 1⁄2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
• 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1) Combine all ingredients in a food processor; cover and puree until smooth.
2) Toss with hot cooked pasta or vegetables, spread on French bread or use in any recipe calling for pesto.
Honey-Lavender Salad Dressing
• 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice
• 1 garlic clove, crushed
• 1 teaspoon coarse-grain mustard
• 2 tablespoons honey or lavender honey
• 1 teaspoon dried lavender flowers
1) Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl. Let stand for 30 minutes, allowing flavors to infuse.
2) Whisk again just before serving. Enjoy!
Information referenced from Eatright.org and FoodandNutrition.org. Recipes found from the following links: