Make use of the remnants of your herb garden with these homemade herb starters, which you can use throughout the fall and winter. Herb starters are easy to throw into a pan along with a little salt and pepper to season meat, fish or potatoes. You can make herb starters in batches and freeze them to use as needed. Herb starters are also a good way to store leftover fresh herbs purchased from the store so they won't go to waste.
To make your homemade herb starters, you'll need a silicone or conventional ice cube-type tray. This will serve as the freezer mold for your starters. You can also store the herb starters in the tray and pop them out as you use them.
Gather a quantity of herbs if you want to make a selection of different herb starters. You could also make them all the same with one type of herb, or mix herbs together.
Did you know you can create a homemade herb garden out of just about anything? Cans, stacked pots, pallets, recycled furniture, drawers, tires, and even old pianos all make excellent planters for a creative DIY herb garden that's customizable to fit your space.
photo credit: pinkwhen.com
Choose your selection of fresh herbs. Growing your own herbs offers the freshest herbs and is the most cost effective. Remove the leaves from the stem for each type of herb you use, keeping the herbs separate or mixing them together to create combination herb starters. Mince up each herb to release the flavor and break down the leaf. We used a knife to cut up the rosemary and a food processor to shred the larger basil and cilantro leaves.
Mix the shredded leaves with a quantity of olive oil, depending on how dense you want each starter to be. We used 1/2 cup of olive oil per ramekin.
Once mixed, the herbs will float in the olive oil. It's ok if the mixture isn't completely homogeneous, since the starters will settle in the tray anyway and the chopped herbs and olive oil will be re-mixed together once melted in a pan for cooking.
Spoon the herbs and olive oil into your mold, dispersing the liquid among the cubes. We made a variety of starters with two different types of basil, cilantro, rosemary, and mint.
Place the top on the tray and freeze the starters for 3 to 4 hours. If your tray doesn't have a top, cover the tray with plastic wrap. Once the herb starters are solid, they will be easy to remove and you can store them in the freezer in a different container or just keep them frozen in the tray until needed.
Add an herb starter to the pan when cooking chicken, shrimp, or steak. Rosemary and basil are a staple when cooking chicken and cilantro is a great option to spice up beef for tacos or burritos. You can can even throw in a chive herb starter with potatoes and the olive oil will help fry them to a golden brown. Herb starters melt pretty quickly even at room temperature as the olive oil softens, so return any leftover starters to the freezer as soon as possible.
Don't let your extra herbs go to to waste and enjoy fresh flavors all winter long with these easy homemade herb starters.