Monday, May 16, 2011

Tarragon Harvest

Even though the weather is still too cold & wet to do much planting, my greenhouse is pretty active. I love growing my own herbs & have managed to keep French Tarragon for the last 3 years in pots in the greenhouse. I usually divide them every other year, so this year they will remain as they are & I believe I'm up to 6 pots now.

My favourite way to use tarragon - other than a few sprigs in my salads - is to make tarragon oil. Today I cut them all back & brought them in for processing.

It's a pretty simple process. I make sure they are bug & dirt free, but not wet. I generally don't wash them because then I would need to dry them quite thoroughly - you don't want water mixed in with the plant material when making oil or it will ruin the batch (been there, done that).

I chop up the herbs - stems & all - and cram them into a jar. I have a rather large collection of snap-lid jars that work very well. If I were to use screw lid type jars, I would put a layer of plastic wrap under the lid as I wouldn't want any possible reaction to happen with the metal & the oil & the plant matter.

Then I pour in the oil - in this case, I'm using straight up virgin olive oil - stir it around gently to remove any air bubbles & to make sure all the plant matter is under the oil. If the plant matter isn't under the oil, there is risk that the plant will start to break down & mold - which will ruin a batch of herbal oil (been there, done that).

Next, I label the jar (type & date) & put it somewhere out of the way, but where I will hopefully remember it, as it will need to be stirred up every few days. I will leave this for 3 or 4 weeks & then strain out the plant matter & bottle up the oil.

Voila! Herbal oil which is great for adding to salad dressings or to use while cooking!

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