It has been a luscious blossoming blooming year for gardeners across the land. Much sunlight and only occasional rain has kept most of the slug and snail critters at bay, hoorah! And over in Staffordshire, Mum and dad’s apple mint went wild again, and started springing up everywhere in places most unexpected. We were lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time to harvest the lot, bring it back to the Beach House Kitchen and get creative.
When faced with huge armfuls of thick 3ft long mint stems, it is easy to find yourself wondering what on earth you’re going to do with the bounty of furry goodness there in front of you! But luckily there are many ways to preserve herbs – in oils, vinegars, dried in jars; and many uses for the finished product like salad dressings, flavouring for your cooking, teas and delightful herbal baths! Lets face it a whole shelf of different herbal vinegars is pure visual delight – and that’s before you’ve even eaten any!
Glass or plastic jar with waxed paper and elastic band for lid if metal (vinegar disintegrates metal lids)
Apple cider vinegar with the mother culture (great for your digestive system)
Aromatic herbs, such as apple mint (or all the other kinds of mint too), chives and chive blossom, dandelion flowers and leaves, organic orange peel, lavender flowers, even nettles…. The list goes on…
Fill a jar with your freshly cut chopped herbs, making sure the jar is well filled but not packed too tightly either… (After a few goes you’ll get the idea, I don’t think I put enough in ours)!
Pour room-temperature apple cider vinegar into the jar until it is full.
Cover jar with wax paper held on with a rubber band and metal lid on top, or a plastic lid, or a cork.
Label the jar with the name of the herb and the date.
Put the jar in a kitchen cupboard not too hot and not too cold but out of direct sunlight and leave for 6 weeks.
Don’t forget it’s there!
Over salads or beans and grains at dinner, in salad dressings, or to season stir fries and soups.
You can even drink it in the morning in a glass of water as a health tonic, after all what could be more healthy than your own produce soaked in apple cider vinegar!
We love it
There’s a lovely aspect of this creative process too and it’s all about the love and appreciation of food that has come out of your own soil. The very act of stripping the leaves from the stem, drying them, and getting creative all feels like a very natural and heart-warming process; one which our ancestors would have done too, to preserve that nourishing goodness of Summer ready for darker Wintery times. And it is SO good for you! Daily use of preserved herbs gives you a little health boost with virtually no expense or effort.
Herbs are magic because of the high level of nutrients they contain – mint for example contains a lot of Calcium.
Apple cider vinegar has been known as a health-giving agent for centuries. Hippocrates swore by it, along with honey. It is incredible at lowering cholesterol, improving skin tone, and even for arthritis. It is also very good at dissolving nutrients from plants which water is not so good at, meaning this vinegar is super-healthy and mineral rich.
Ever seen your granny splash some vinegar onto her greens before serving? Eaten with iron rich vegetables like spinach or broccoli, vinegar can increase the amount of calcium you get by a third. Pretty amazing stuff!
Vinegar is highly alkaline, I know that sounds strange, but when it is metabolised by the body, it goes through a serious change. Alkaline foods are incredible for health and keep disease and other baddies at bay.