Summer, what are you green, fragrant and ... tasty! ..
Fragrant dill; bright young parsley; spicy basil with its uniquely appetizing aroma! Vitamin Spinach and Sorrel; tender melissa and mint, smelling like summer evenings ...
How you want to keep these delicious smells and useful substances for the winter! After all, winter greens, first of all, dear; secondly, it has an order of magnitude less benefit than fresh, seasonal.
But there are techniques by which you save the greens for the winter tasty and healthy! Choose the one that you like and will be most convenient for you.
Since the percentage of water in greens is much higher than dry matter, one of the options to keep the leaflets is to freeze them. The water will turn into ice; the vital activity of bacteria and the fermentation processes in which vitamins are destroyed are also “frozen”, and as a result, the greens can be stored for a long time.
Freezing is the easiest way of harvesting, which allows to preserve maximum benefit and taste in plants. But there are some rules and nuances that are important to follow to keep the billet for a long time, while maintaining its qualities.
1. Greens need to carefully sort out, removing yellowed, dry, rotted twigs and leaves.
2. Thoroughly wash the greens, first immersing in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes, and then carefully catching and rinsing in running water.
3. Then the greens need to be slightly dried - not to dry, but simply spread out for 10-15 minutes on a towel or paper so that excessive moisture can be absorbed by the glass.
4. Prepare the container. It is convenient to store frozen greens in:
- sealed bags with zip lock;
- it is possible and in ordinary sandwich bags, carefully wrapping them;
- in food containers: it may be plastic containers purchased specifically for blanks, or boxes or cups of dairy products.
If you have a volume freezer, you can place the boxes in it; if you don’t really swing it, the bags will help out: they are flexible and more compact.
5. An important point: the layer of frozen greens should not be too thick; ideally, up to 4 cm. Why? Because if the thickness of the frozen layer is higher, then the blank will need more time to freeze, because the freezing goes from the surface to the middle.
When “slow freezing”, the quality of the billet will not be very good: large ice crystals are formed that damage the plant tissues. And during the subsequent defrosting the greens become unappetizing, it smells good, softens.
Therefore, for greens, as well as for any fruit, fruit and vegetable preparations, “fast” freezing is optimal, which is ensured at –18º C (standard temperature in a conventional freezer) and laying the product in a thin layer. When the billet freezes quickly, small ice crystals are formed that do not damage the product, so the external and taste properties remain at the level.
6. Finely chop the prepared greens, pack them into the selected container and close them tightly. If you close it loosely, then, firstly, moisture will evaporate from the greenery, and secondly, it will become impregnated with foreign odors from the freezer. We try to get as little air as possible into the container: the moisture will not freeze, and it will be more compact. 7. Store frozen greens at - 18º C. Do not tamp the full freezer - when laying for long storage, it is important that cold air circulate in the freezer. If packs and boxes are packed too tightly, the circulation and temperature conditions will break, snow and ice will freeze on the walls of the chamber, and the blanks will begin to thaw gradually. To avoid this, we stack them with small gaps.
The above freezing rules apply not only to greens, but also to all kinds of crops - fruits, berries and vegetables.
Another interesting way to freeze greens is in ice cubes. You need to chop the clean greens, loosely fill the ice molds with it, add water and freeze. Such “green” ice cubes are conveniently added to the first courses.
You can freeze spicy herbs: parsley, dill, basil, cilantro, celery; as well as leafy greens: spinach, sorrel, beet tops, chard (leaf beets). You can prepare different types both individually and in assorted form.
Frozen greens can be stored from 8 months to 1 year. It is important to remember that thawed greens are not subject to repeated freezing: if it is unfrozen, then it should be used.
Frozen greens are a great addition to winter soups, borscht, roasts. We throw 1-2 tablespoons of greens into the pan straight from the freezer a couple of minutes before the dish is ready - and the food smells like summer!
Drying greens for the winter
If you have a refrigerator of the old model, which periodically needs to be defrosted, then the first method will not be very convenient - you will not be able to keep the greens for the whole winter, but only until the next defrost. In this case, another option is suitable: dry the greens.
Let dried herbs preserve fewer nutrients than frozen, but wonderful spicy flavors remain with them! And of course, personally dried spices are much more beneficial than dry mixes from store bags.
Prepare the greens in the same way as for freezing: pereberem, rinse well and let dry a little, and then dry in a convenient way for you. I use the method number 2.
We bind the greens with loose bundles and hang them in a ventilated room so that direct sunlight does not fall on the bundles. You need to dry in the breeze, but not in the sun, otherwise the green will fade, the leaves will become fragile and crumble. A suitable option - in the shade at the open window.
Bundles look colorful in a country cottage, but in a city apartment, perhaps, there is no place to hang them. Then we do it a little differently: we cut the prepared, clean greens into not too small pieces (the leaves are better - separately, the petioles - separately). It is more convenient to use not a knife, but kitchen scissors.
Sprinkle crushed greens on paper or a towel. Layer thickness - up to 1, 5 cm. We keep, again, not in the sun - you can put it somewhere in the room, for example, put it in the closet so that the workpiece doesn’t interfere, and the household and pets do not inadvertently scatter greens.
Dried greens are ready for packaging, when it is not wet to the touch, but light, crumbly. But at the same time, it should not turn into dust - if it crumbles, it means that it is oversold.
To speed up the process, you can dry the herbs in the oven. We sprinkle chopped greens in a thin layer on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and put them in the oven for 2-3 hours at a temperature of up to 40 ° C. Then we increase it to 50º C (and if you dry parsley, then to 70º C) and dry for another 1-2 hours, for a total of 3-4 hours. Please note that not every model of the oven can heat up to low temperatures. So this option is suitable only for some models of electric ovens.
After cooling the greens, we pack it up for storage.
Dry greens should be stored in a clean, dry, hermetically sealed container - glass jars with screw caps, or containers for bulk products. Banks set in a dark place. Then the blank will save a beautiful color and a pleasant aroma.
You can dry for any kind of spicy herbs: dill sprigs and umbrellas; parsley, marjoram and basil, thyme, cilantro and celery, lemon balm and mint.
In winter, it is good to add dried herbs to various dishes and drinks. It is especially cool on a frosty evening to pour a pinch of dried mint or lemon balm into tea with lemon - and it seems that Summer is again!
Another way to save greens is to sprinkle with salt. Prepare clean, sterile jars with volumes from 200 to 500 ml, and caps (threaded or thick polyethylene). After washing the greens, thoroughly wash them and dry them for 15-20 minutes, spread them out on a towel. Then, finely chopped greens, laid in jars in layers:
- some greens (about 0.5-1 cm tall);
- sparsely salute;
- green again;
- salt again;
And so on to the top of the can. Since the green is lush and eventually tends to settle, you need to tamp the contents of the jar - otherwise in a couple of days the bank will be half full.
The topmost layer of greens is poured with a thick layer of salt - on a 200-gram jar a couple of teaspoons so that the greens are covered with salt. This preparation is stored in the refrigerator for several months. I have parsley on the refrigerator door for 1, 5 months. Salt can be dill, celery, even sorrel.
It is good to season the first and second dishes with this kind of preparation: you do not need to pickle, and natural greens.
In addition to freezing, drying and salting, there are other ways to preserve herbs: for example, “emerald oil” - pouring herbs with vegetable oils; or preparation in own juice (with sterilization). However, I have not tried these options, so this article offers only personally tested recipes.
How do you harvest greens? Share your recipes, how to save a little summer for the winter!