The season is the reason - for sharing homestead goodies, that is.
During the fall, we dehydrated many of our homegrown herbs and saved them in air-tight jars for later use. With the holiday season in full swing, we're breaking them back out and making up some farm fresh gifts.
Even now, these dried herbs are still the strongest and most aromatic I have ever used - they still smell and taste just about as well as they did fresh picked! I'm so glad I can continue to savor the flavor.
Here's what I did...
Using whatever variety of dried herbs you like, place in a mortar with pestle and add course salt and peppercorns.
The course salt and whole peppercorns help to break apart the leaves when smashed against the pestle.
Smash and press until the mixture is fine. You could alternatively use a coffee grinder, on an espresso setting, but I feared that would leave my coffee later tasting a bit too basil-y. If I had a spare one, I might then dedicate it to herb related uses only (tea-making, herb mixes).
We grew two varieties of basil, thyme, italian flat-leaf parsley, mint, rosemary, and lavender. In this mixture, I used the basil, thyme, and parsley along with sea salt and whole peppercorns. This would be great for italian-style dishes, used in a sauce, or to season poultry, beef, or seafood.
We did not have as much rosemary as I would have liked this year, so I kept that to myself for use in breads. The lavender was used in scrubs, but I retained some for other baking ventures, though I may attempt some lavender tea (must research first...).
When you are finished mashing, pull out any long stems that the leaves had separated from. Those are not necessary and will not break down in the mortar. If you do use the grinder instead, this may not be an issue for you.
Using a funnel, I poured the mix into air-tight jars with latching lids once it was to the consistency I liked. Given the strength of the herbs, each small jar will go a long way. The mix if flavor-packed!
Another fun homemade gift to add to the basket this year!