This week’s share will include various pre-cut herbs, and remember, no two boxes will be alike. Your box may include purple basil, sage, or cilantro.
SAGE Long valued for its many uses in magic, medicine, and meal preparation, sage is high in calcium and provides vitamins C and B-complex, potassium, magnesium, and zinc. To prepare, remove the leaves from the woody branches or stems. Use fresh leaves in your recipes or dry for later use. To dry, spread in a single layer on a tray or screen in a warm, airy and shady place. Store dried leaves in a dark, airtight container.
PURPLE BASIL Use purple basil just as you would use the more familiar green basil. Add a few purple leaves to your standard pesto recipe for color interest. It is also an attractive and delicious addition to fresh green salads. Or use as a garnish on the dinner plate.
CILANTRO A pungent herb with a unique flavor, cilantro is fast becoming a favorite for many. Used in a variety of ethnic dishes, cilantro has gained in popularity in this country. Of course, one of the first things that comes to mind is its use in homemade salsa. It is used in many other Mexican dishes as well, and is also included in a variety of Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai and Indian recipes.
Cilantro contains many vitamins such as vitamin A, C, B6, E, K, folic acid, beta carotene, and niacin. High in antioxidants and essential oils, it aids in the reduction of bad cholesterols, increases the levels of good cholesterols, and assists in our digestive system.
To store for a short time, wrap cilantro in a damp towel or stand upright in a container with an inch of water and refrigerate. Wash just before using. Cilantro can also be frozen–simply place fresh leaves in a plastic zip-lock bag, remove air, seal, and freeze. Do not thaw before using.
Cilantro leaves can be added to green salads, chopped into pasta or potato salads, or stirred into soups, stews and stir-fries at the end of cooking time. Adding them toward the end will help to retain the fresh flavor and color.
FREEZING TIPS Tender herbs, such as basil, chives, cilantro, dill, mint and parsley, are best suited to freezing. Blanching them first helps capture their fresh flavor. Drop into boiling water for several seconds, then with a slotted spoon or tongs, transfer to a bowl of ice water to chill for several seconds more. Blot dry with paper towels. Spread a single layer of the blanched herbs on a wax paper-lined baking sheet, cover loosely with plastic and freeze until solid, about 1 hour. Transfer to plastic storage bags. Blanched herbs can be frozen for up to 4 months and can be chopped while still frozen before using in soups, stews and sauces.