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Herbs and ‘The Hugo’

IMG_0258As the tops of my basil plants start to flower, I'm reminded that summer is soon over and the kids will be back to school routines and soccer games next week.  I'm not ready yet, but will make the most of the last weekend of pool & play before going back to the demands of that 4-kid, color-coded, whiteboard activity calendar!

My sad basil plants need answers now so I thought it would be good to do a refresher on what you can do with all your herbs for the season. Since you can find a thousand recipes for pesto on the interwebs right now, we're going to skip that suggestion here and cover things in general.

herbsHowever, as a reward for the hard work of cleaning up your summer garden, I'll share the recipe for the trendy drink of the summer from Europe (and a new way to use some of that peppermint that has spread across your garden over the summer).  Hubby's cousin introduced us to this drink (thanks Gertrud!) and it was a popular new offering at his hometown's wine festival we attended while visiting family in Germany this past month.

It's called the Hugo and I am officially importing the recipe from Germany to Philly right here in this post. Serve it for your Labor Day get-together this weekend and get ready for rave reviews. You're welcome =)

Ok, we'll get to that a little later but first we have work to do.
Here's what you can do with your herbs:

Plan Herbs Advice
Overwinter perennial herbs

 

chives, lavender, oregano, sage, thyme You can leave these in the ground and they should bounce back next season. Best to cut them back after the first freeze and add some mulch if you live in a colder area.
Pot and bring indoors chives, lavender, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, thyme Transplant into pots making sure to get a good ball of roots.  Let them stay outside in pots for couple weeks to adjust to the pots and then bring indoors. Should be able to enjoy thru the Fall.

For woody stems like rosemary and lavender, you can  take cuttings and use root powder to get potted.

Collect seeds coriander, dill Collect and store seeds now. You can plant them where you want them next season.  (My dill seems to come back each year but it moves around to wherever seeds landed in Fall!)
Harvest and either dry herbs or store frozen Group A: basil, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme

Group B: chives, parsley, cilantro, tarragon

See instructions below for best way to store herbs.  Group A dry or freeze well while Group B do not dry well but freeze well or can used to prepare herbal vinegars/oils.

basilSomeone thankfully did the research and evaluated the various ways to prepare and store fresh herbs.  The best and easiest method is to mix chopped herbs with some light oil (canola or olive) and put them in a ziploc bag in a flat layer, sucking the air out. IMG_0264

The bags can then be stored in the freezer. To use, you just break off thin slices of whatever you need. This method is much easier to prepare and saves space compared to the old ice cube tray method! And the herbs dissolve into your cooking fast and easy without adding extra moisture.

Okay so now for the reward recipe!

elderflower

From what I understand, the Hugo originated in Northern Italy but it has taken Europe by storm this summer, particularly in Germany.

Enjoy the last moments of the summer this Labor Day weekend by trying it out!

(And note, mineral water with a splash of elderflower syrup also tastes terrific and makes a great non-alcoholic alternative!)

hugo2'The Hugo'
Peppermint leaves
Prosecco
Mineral water
Elderflower syrup (can be found at IKEA)
Lime or lemon slice for garnish
Ice

Muddle a few peppermint leaves in the bottom of  a wine glass and add a few ice cubes.  Add 4 parts Prosecco and 1 part elderflower syrup. Add splash of mineral water and stir.  Decorate with lime or lemon slice or sprig of mint.

Cheers everyone to the new school year!

 

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