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I signed up for an herb CSA this year with Garden Dweller Farms, the largest (err, only) herb farm in ND. While they are not certified organic since finding all the seed they want is difficult, they do practice organic. Good enough for me. So I received lots of wonderful herbs and while I would have loved to actually use it all every week, that’s a lot of herbs to go through. I dried a lot and just for the heck of it I fermented some. So glad I did, it turned out better than I anticipated.
One of the best things about fermented herbs is amazing brine infused with the flavors of the herbs. This brine is wonderful for adding to meals, not only adding flavor but increasing nutrition as well. Fermented herbs’ flavors deepen over time. The brine and the herb itself can be used in salad dressings, mixed into salads like potato salad and egg salad, used in place of the fresh herbs in most any recipe. The sky’s the limit with the possibilities.
The fermented herbs have a wonderful fresh taste, much like using the herbs fresh from the garden themselves. I cook with them or use them chopped up in salads. To preserve some of the probiotics, add to hot meals just before serving.
Experiment #1: Rosemary
I had way more rosemary than I could use before it went bad. I dehydrated some and fermented the rest.
- Fresh rosemary
- 2% brine (19 gms of sea salt per 4 cups of water)Pack rosemary inside your jar up to the shoulder. Pour 2% brine over the top making sure everything is submerged under the brine. Use a dunker to keep things down. Seal the jar and don’t forget to fill the airlock. Leave at room temp for 5-7 days or until bubble activity subsides. Remove to the fridge.
Experiment #2: Basil
What can you do with fermented basil? Use it just like you would fresh basil. It tastes great with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Garnish salads with it or top your spaghetti with a few leaves.
- Fresh sprigs of basil
- 2% brine (19 gms of sea salt per 4 cups of water)Pack you jar with basil sprigs to the shoulder. Pour 2% brine over the top making sure everything is submerged under the brine. Use a dunker to push everything under. Seal jar, fill airlock and let set at room temp for 5-7 days or until bubble activity subsides. Remove to fridge.I found my basil compacted considerably during fermentation. Once everything was fermented, I packed the basil into a smaller jar and topped with the leftover brine. The extra brine made a great addition to salad dressings.
Experiment #3: Fermented Pesto
Pesto is normally something you make and eat within a few days or freeze the remaining. Fermenting keeps it fresh in the fridge for a long time. The pesto you see pictured is 4 months old and tastes as fresh as the day I made it. Fermenting it surprisingly doesn’t change the flavor all that much. It just adds a bit of a zip to it. So you have a fresh tasting pesto with a probiotic boost that lasts for several months in the fridge. What’s not to love?
While this mix doesn’t necessarily have to be used as pesto, that was my initial plan. Just add oil and cheese after fermenting.
- 8 oz fresh basil (leaves and stems)
- 4 oz flat leaf parsley (leaves and stems)
- 4 oz walnuts (or pine nuts)
- 4 garlic cloves
- 5 gms sea salt
- 2% salt brine
In a blender or food processor, add all ingredients except salt brine. You might find it easier to do half of each at a time. Chop everything up finely, adding salt brine to make a chunky paste. Spoon into fermentation vessel, pressing out air bubbles. This mixture fit nicely into a 3/4L Pickl-It jar. Gently tap jar to remove any remaining bubbles. Let set at room temp for 3-5 days or once fermentation activity dies down. Remove to cold storage until ready to use.
To use as pesto, mix in 1 cup of oil and 1 cup of parmesan cheese. Serve on top of warm pasta (not too hot do you don’t kill all the buggies).
Experiment #4: Fermented Cilantro Pesto
Cilantro is another herb that tastes awesome fermented. I posted this recipe for Fermented Mexican Cilantro Pesto a while ago. Leave out the cheese and pumpkin seeds and use as you would use cilantro in most any recipe.
This is just a sampling of the possibilities, just a few that I have tried so far.