Storing Herbs in the Fridge

 

Ok, one more thing related to our super haul from the last farmers’ market last week.  It’s also related to a big bag of assorted herbs that some visiting relatives left at our house this summer.  They were from the garden, and I made it my “herb challenge” to use every one, and in some cases to figure out what they were.  After having fresh oregano in pasta sauce, rosemary potatoes, lemongrass syrup for soda, and tarragon butter – the finale – I decided this was way too much fun to stop just because we got to the bottom of the bag, and I’ve been buying more fresh herbs ever since.  They just add such a punch of round, fresh flavor.

This tip for storing them is something we figured out last fall while visiting friends in Bend, OR.  You know how basil wilts in the fridge pretty much immediately?  Well, the farmer at one stall told us to try putting the stems in a jar with water in the refrigerator, which we did – and it wilted immediately, maybe even faster than in a bag.  I was telling this story to another farmer the next week and he said, “But, did you put a plastic bag over the top?”

Aha!  This works amazingly well, like some kind of magical super-cold greenhouse.  Put the bag loosely over the herbs, and then use a rubber band to keep it tight to the base of the jar.  For basil, I also trim the stems just a bit like I would cut flowers.  The basil in this picture is already a few days old, it will stay fresh for about a solid week.  The other herbs have so far all been eaten before they show signs of wilting.

Hope this inspires you to add some fresh herbs to your fridge!

Update: If your basil stems aren’t long enough for a jar of water, I’ve had good success keeping them sealed tight in a plastic bag in the fridge, with just a little moisture inside.  If it seems dry in the bag, I sprinkle in a little water and distribute it by gently mixing the leaves around, then seal the bag again.  This works in a cooler too, as long as the leaves don’t touch the ice.

Asian Coleslaw Recipe Sketch

 

This is a family recipe in a few ways.  I first got obsessed with this salad a couple of years ago when one of my aunts was making it a lot.  Hers was inspired by two different recipes (neither for Asian coleslaw), which I bothered her until she sent me, I thought it was so good I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  I have been making my version of her salad (below) for long enough that it’s established its own pattern in my head of what “Asian Coleslaw” is like.

So, during our craft retreat, another aunt decided to make “Asian Coleslaw” with some veggies left in her fridge.  Great!  I offered to help, and had to laugh as soon as she started putting things in.  Parsley?  Olive oil instead of peanut or sesame?  If you’re putting that, why not add this cauliflower?  No?  As it became more and more clear that our visions differed (and of course her version was also delicious) I realized that here was one of my own lessons coming back to me, of course you can make it with whatever you have and whatever you like!  Please feel free to experiment.

 

Asian Coleslaw

This much will feed four as a side.

Combine in a bowl:

1/2 small cabbage (your favorite kind) shredded

3 medium carrots, grated

1/4 cup chopped cashews (peanuts and or/sesame seeds would also be good)

3 green onions/scallions, chopped fine (optional)

1/2 cup chopped cilantro (and/or parsley or other herbs)

Dressing (I make this in my little food processor):

1 Tablespoon shallot, or 2 cloves of garlic

1 Tablespoon fresh ginger

2 Tablespoons toasted sesame oil (you can also use peanut)

Juice of one small lime (or splash of rice vinegar, although I like lime better)

2 – 3 Tablespoons soy sauce or tamari

2 teaspoons sugar or maple syrup

Squirt of hot sauce (or add serrano or another hot chile)

Process the dressing until everything is combined and chopped fine (you could also mince the solid ingredients by hand and combine everything in the bowl).  Pour the dressing over the salad, toss, and you are done!  This also keeps quite well in the fridge for several days.

 

 
I realized as I was thinking about posting this recipe that’s a really a year-round salad.  I tend to think of it almost more for winter, since the ingredients are still readily available, and it provides a little something fresh when almost everything seems warm and stewed.  But, it also makes me think of my cousin (sweating out the Brooklyn summer without AC) and everyone stuck in the Midwest heatwave – a tasty way to get your veggies without ever turning on the oven.  I’m still making it here, even though our monsoon-season weather has been exquisite, so close to perfect that I keep sitting on the (brick) front steps with my laptop to feel the breezes.   I’m telling you, the world’s best weather is in the mountain southwest, once it starts to rain.

One last note, my DIY envelope tutorial was featured on KP’s blog today!  We became friends in person (when we lived in the same country) now I love keeping up with her fun projects and lovely photos (plus she has a recycle project challenge)!