Herbes Salées

 

Is it too soon to long for those lazy late summer days?  Yeah probably…even with El Niño keeping things mild, we have had a few frosts that would have left summer’s raucous shrub-sized containers of herbs all sadly wilted and gray.  So the solution, before that happens?  Pesto is one, but this traditional Acadian seasoning is another, and it is GREAT for sailboat living, compactly preserving herbs, but in a less anemic condition than your average fully-dried variety.

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Mindset is important for this recipe…lazy late summer is what you are shooting for, particularly during step one: pulling the leaves off of all your herbs.  I’m using about 50% oregano, 40% parsley, and 10% chives because that’s what I had (the basil having long since gone to pesto).  Set yourself up comfortably in the sunny cockpit and pick those leaves and RELAX.

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If you can, get your Captain and Swab in on the relaxing act for moral support.

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C’est tres belle, non?  You want your herbs as dry as possible, so if you have just rinsed them before picking, give them ample time to dry.

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Grab a handful of herbs and your ulu and bowl.  Sure, you could use a chef’s knife and cutting board, but this is so much easier, tidier, and therapeutic.

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Chop the herbs fairly finely.  They are going to nestle in a jar with salt, and you want a certain amount of coverage.  I continued chopping until they were about half the size shown above.  Roll-chop, roll-chop, roll-chop.

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When you are done chopping a first handful, put a couple of tablespoons of coarse salt in the bottom of a mason jar.  Spoon a layer (maybe 4-5 loose tablespoons) of herbs on top.  Add another tablespoon of salt, another layer of herbs.

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I ultimately ended up with maybe 8-10 layers total.  There’s no need to be too precise…things will get shaken up many times in the next couple of weeks.

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Rough idea of herb to salt ratio.

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Leave an inch or so — the neck of the jar — open so that there’s room to shake the contents around even before they shrink.

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Give the jar a good shake and put it in the icebox (or somewhere fairly cool and dark) for 10-14 days.  Every time you open the icebox give it a good shake.  If water accumulates in the bottom as the herbs dehydrate, you can pour it off; mine didn’t generate that much water…just a damp bottom layer.  Yep…you’ve got two weeks to wait before this recipe comes to fruition!

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Feel free to take a nap.

Your results: the herbs definitely dehydrate and are well preserved.  I’ve had mine in the icebox for several months now and they are just as good as when they were just completed.  They are definitely not fresh, but they are way more intact and organically-herb-ey than dried.  Obviously you have to use this carefully due to the salt content — it fully replaces the salt in any recipe!  One fabulous use is salad dressing–just mix with oil, vinegar and maybe some black pepper.  I can’t wait to make this next year with other herb combinations…enjoy!

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