With lots of lush growth on the herb plants in my garden at the moment, I decided to have a go at making some herb butters again and wanted to share the basics with you so you can enjoy them too.

The basic method is to:

  • Take half a pack of butter 125g (in the UK, most packs are 250g) and let it reach room temperature so it will be soft enough to mix the herbs into.
  • Decide which herbs you’d like to use – they can be fresh or dried. Add between 1 tsp to 1 tbsp of each herb depending on the strength of the herb and to your taste. Prepare the herbs by chopping them finely, I find my Mezzaluna and wooden board that it came with the easiest to use, looks similar to this one but larger, but you could just buy the *Mezzaluna or even a *herb chopper if you’re not comfortable using just a knife to chop the herbs.
  • Prepare any other ingredients that you wish to blend into the butter.
  • Place the butter into a bowl and whip until it has a creamy texture.
  • Blend in the other ingredients with a spoon or hand held mixer until they are evenly dispersed.
  • Roll the butter into a log shape and wrap in greaseproof paper/cling film/foil, twist the end of the paper to seal it or fold ends as if wrapping a present and tuck underneath. Place in the refrigerator for about 2 hours to harden and allow the flavours to develop. Alternatively, place in the freezer (remembering to label it with the herbs you have used) and then just take a slice as you need it but use within a few weeks to enjoy it at its best. If you can’t wait until it’s chilled you can of course serve it fresh with your meal.

For something different you could flatten the butter to approximately 3 cm thick then use any shape of biscuit cutters to cut out some shapes out of the flattened butter. Flower shapes look good. Try these shapes or thick slices of the rolled style melted on steaks, other barbeque meats, vegetables or into soups and sauces for flavour or add to baked potatoes.

If you prefer to watch a video on how to make herb butter, this is one with Sophie Grigson making herb butter using a blender.

Making and trying herb butters is a good way to find out which herbs or blends of herbs are your favourites.

Here are just a few ideas for which herbs go well with certain foods but just let your imagination run riot and see what delicious combinations that you can come up with:

Fish: parsley, fennel, dill, chervil, coriander leaf, lovage, lemon thyme, lemon balm

Meats: marjoram, garlic, rosemary, mint

Chicken: tarragon, basil, sage

Vegetables esp. beans and tomatoes: basil, thyme

Egg based dishes: chives, chervil, parsley, tarragon

If you’d like a detailed recipe, leave me a comment and I’ll write a few blog posts with just recipes. Alternatively, if you have any favourite combinations feel free to share them below.

* these are affiliate links, the item price is unchanged but if you chose to buy via the link, a small commission will be paid to me which will help with the running costs of this site.

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Edible Flowers

May 28, 2010

Herb flowers make a colourful addition to salads and can also be used to flavour sugars, decorate drinks and crystallized for use on cakes or chocolates.

rosepetals

Please note that anyone with asthma or hay fever is advised not to eat flowers in case of extreme allergies to the pollen.

Most flowers should have their petals separated before consumption and any white ‘heel’ removed (this part is bitter).

You can read more details about what the different flowers taste like at this website:

http://homecooking.about.com/library/weekly/blflowers.htm

There is more information and some descriptions here too:

http://www.recipes4us.co.uk/Edible%20Flowers.htm
Edible Flowers pdf

Alternatively, look at Jekka McVicar’s book: Good Enough To Eat: Growing Edible Flowers and Cooking with Them which gives lots of recipes.

There is another book by Kathy Brown called Edible Flowers: From Garden To Plate: How To Grow and Cook Edible Flowers. You can see some photos of Kathy’s garden over at Emma’s blog or on Kathy’s own website.

Edible flowers include the following:

Anise hyssop (Agastache anethiodora), basil, bergamot, chive florets – break up and sprinkle – don’t eat a whole head – it will be very strong! Fennel, mint, nasturtiums, borage flowers can be used in summer drinks, green or fruit salads – make sure you take the flower from its backing (very dry texture), also see my previous blog post-Borage Flowers On Ice, elderflower, pot marigold (calendula officinalis), primrose, rose petals, sweet woodruff, salad rocket flowers or flowerbuds – nutty, slightly fragrant. Sweet violets; blue/white – scatter over a salad.

Sweet Woodruff

Flowers suitable for crystallizing are rose petals, violets, blue borage or mint leaves.

borageflowers2

Rosemary and lavender buds or scented geranium leaves (lemon and rose particularly) can be used to flavour custards, milk and cream desserts and puddings.

Scented geranium leaves can be placed in the base of a sponge mixture to give a wonderful flavour to the cake.

NB Always make sure you have identified the plant correctly and do not eat in large quantities i.e. just a few flowers/petals in a salad for example or a borage flower in an ice cube in your drink.

This article is based on an excerpt from my Herb Gardening e-book.

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I have received a lovely recipe from 11 year old Matty Varney of Southampton (it was sent in by his father who is a subscriber to my ezine). Matty was inspired to create this dish whilst in the middle of their local ramson wood. Once back home Matty wrote the recipe and cooked the delicious soup using the wild garlic leaves gathered.  I tried out the recipe a couple of weeks ago and it is very tasty.  I have reproduced it below and hope you will enjoy it too.

Wild Garlic and Tomato Soup

by Matty Varney

Ingredients
·         2 teaspoons of vegetable stock powder
·         25ml of ketchup
·         1 small leek
·         Wild garlic leaves (a handful of)
·         500ml of hot water
·         440 grams of pomodorino tomatoes
·         1 teaspoon of basil

Method

  1. Measure out the tomatoes (440 grams).
  2. Cut all of the tomatoes in half.
  3. Finely chop a handful of wild garlic leaves.
  4. Then finely chop one small leek.
  5. Then place the slices of leek inside a bowl with the garlic leaves and the teaspoon of basil.
  6. After that fry the tomatoes for 5 minutes face down.
  7. Then in a jug place 2 teaspoons of vegetable stock  powder and add 500ml of hot water.
  8. Once the tomatoes are done pour them in the stock and vegetables and place the mixture inside a wok.
  9. Then squeeze 25ml of ketchup inside the mixture and stir.
  10. Afterwards stir the mixture around again.
  11. Then cook for 25 minutes (on a med’/low heat).
  12. Finally place the mixture in the liquidizer and liquidize until it reaches your preferred consistency. Now, ENJOY!!!

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