­CSA members might find something puzzling at their harvest pick-ups these days. It very well could be an unfamiliar type of produce…that Sputnik-looking kohlrabi thing? A handful of something called tatsoi? An enormous, all-at-once amount of basil?

Rather than passing up a puzzle, members are encouraged to try it all. Here at the farm where I work (and now here in this blog), a “Barn Bit” hanging on the wall next to the item or tucked into the pick-up box­ invites members on small adventures.

I will offer a “Barn Bit” here to show you how it might go. We format them in such a way as to afford a quick glance-read, in print large enough for those who have left reading glasses behind at home. We’ve added to the collection over the years, and so it is never truly complete. Stay tuned for these Barn Bits appearing regularly here on this blog!

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“Herb Straws for the Freezer” was intended to inform folks who might end up with more of any one kind or a combination of herbs than they can use in good time. Or folks who have picked up herb starter plants that are more successful at growing than they ever dreamed of. Or folks who have an herb section in the garden and don’t want to waste a snatch of the beauty.

We plant herbs sparingly at the beginning of the season and snip them back every once in a while to promote bushy growth. Even after processing these leafy snippets, using the herbs liberally in the daily kitchen, and passing on bouquets garnis to friends, we always have boodles left. We use our speedy, go-to process of freezing these “straws” for the winter. The fresh herb is suspended in olive oil, resulting in a darker leaf in amounts perfect for preps. Oddly enough and without planning, they last all season long and seem to run out only just in time for next year’s planting. The result is most delightful and just about as close as one could get to fresh herbs in a stir-fry or stew.

We enjoy making mistakes for you in advance as well as tweaking techniques for better results. Off and on, we have tried adding salts, peppers, spices, or even garlic to these straws, but we have found that keeping the process simple makes for a more streamlined inventory and a more flexible future.

And the best part? Our 1958 Aunt Sibyl always tucked a few leaves in her cleavage to carry as an aromatic remembrance for the day, saying, “Some for the body, some for the soul.”

Herb Straws for the Freezer
For winter joy in fresh herb flavors.

  • Rinse and pat dry chosen fresh herbs, single herbs, or compatible mixtures (basil and lemon thyme; cilantro and chives; rosemary and parsley).
  • Coarsely chop or include the leaves on tender stems.
  • Place in a snack-size plastic zipper bag with 2 tablespoons good-tasting extra-virgin olive oil. Press out the air and zip shut.
  • Corral similar straws together in larger bags for ease in labeling.
  • Freeze for up to 9 months for future stir-fry starters or other preps wanting oil and herbs.
  • Allow these herb straws to thaw in a skillet before heating.

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Barn Bits: Picked at the Peak
Deborah DeBord, Ph.D

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