Sunday Telegraph "The leaves were exceptionally good".
Anneka Rice on Radio 2 - "Almost too beautiful to eat"

Monday, 17 June 2013

Floral Butters and Oils

Floral Butters & Oils
Beautiful little sage orchid
Chives - an overlooked punchy little allium

Like quite a few folks I used to love making herbal oils for home, particularly basil oil, by shaking the insects off some choice flowering stalks and shoving them down the neck of a bottle of good quality olive oil. Then I went on a food safely course and learned that this was one of the easiest ways of giving the family botulism so my attractive bottles had to go - although it wasn't an immediately easy decision. They did look lovely on a sunny kitchen windowsill!

My other issue nowdays is time. By the time that the herbs start to flower at Maddocks Farm I am usually  working 15 hour days and my priority is to get something, anything, on the table that vaguely resembles food so what end up happening is that the herb flowers come and go and I immediately regret their passing without having taken advantage of their wonderful flavour and scent.

Recently however, I read a great article about freezing herb in butter and realised that I could translate this to flowers but to be honest, with the whole family prone to overeating we avoid butter where possible so there was limited use for this until I realised that this technique also worked with olive oil. Eurekka moment!!

I now make a concerted effort to grab a good handful of herb flowers when I put everything to bed at night and I'm stocking up the freezer for the darker days of winter or even sunny summer days when time is short.

Gather a good selection of herb flowers and either pull or cut them off their stalks. Most herb flowers can be used but my favourites are basil, sage and chives. They can either be used individually or mixed.
Coriander flowers - completely underrated 
Place the flowers into icecube containers and top up with a good quality olive oil. You can also chop some garlic in if you like or mix with some of the herb leaves. Entirely up to you.

Pop in the freezer until they are solid and them they can be  banged out and put in plastic bags.

The uses for these little frozen capsules of flavour are endless. Almost anywhere you'd slug a dollop of olive oil you can use them. Great for a base for sauces or soups to sweat onions in; perfect just melted over pasta or in couscous; fabulous with new potatoes; great on the barbie; perfect with a squeeze of lemon for a salad dressing. The list is endless so please just find five minutes to have a quick harvest. You really won't regret it.