Rosie Makes it Easy Herb Preserving Kit Review.
My small London garden is a bit of a jungle right now. I’m somewhat obsessive about growing things that I can eat – from herbs to tomatoes and courgettes. But, of everything I grow myself, the plants I’d miss most are my herbs. I am passionate about having fresh herbs in the garden and advise anyone who likes cooking to grow their own fresh herbs. It’s the single thing that makes the biggest difference to my recipes and having a ready supply of parsley, sage, thyme, tarragon, mint and more in the garden saves so much money. Don’t despair if you live in a flat – you can grow herbs indoors on a windowsill if you don’t have a garden or a back yard. I generally pot up smaller supplies of soft herbs like tarragon, basil and parsley in autumn to keep indoors simply because when the weather gets too frosty they don’t always survive. I sometimes make herb butter, which can be frozen and kept for months, but with a small freezer, I love ideas that don’t involve using up space there. So I was delighted to be sent the Rosie Makes it Easy Herb Preserving Kit to review. Mixed Herb Salt, like the ones I’ve made, is the perfect solution for me to use up fresh herbs that would otherwise go to waste.
One thing that any good gardener will tell you is that you need to continually cut your herbs to get them to grow more. In the case of ‘hard’ herbs like sage and rosemary, you also need to prune them right back in the autumn and early spring. That means you are likely to have sudden gluts of herbs and nothing much to do with them. For that reason, I was really delighted to be sent a special kit by Rosemary Jameson, the doyenne of preserving, who runs an online shop selling everything you need to preserve anything (LoveJars) and various social media groups helping everyone to get into preserving. She’s the founder of The Guild of Jam and Preserve Makers and a published author, with a series of books on jams and preserves. So you’d expect her to know exactly what someone like me might need to get started – and my kit had a host of things to try.
Inside the box, there were a set of pretty, tiny jars with matching labels. Brown paper bags filled with sugar and rock salt. Cider vinegar, empty tea bags and a whole host of accessories including a jelly bag, a herb leaf stripper, a finger guard and even a hook to hang up the jelly bag. That, together with recipe cards for the making the jellies and a copy of Rosemary’s monthly magazine, Simply Preserved, which you can find online here
Delving into the box was one of those Christmas stocking moments. I unpacked more and more goodies and started to get really excited.
Herb jellies use a base of fruit jelly – usually apple. And, I have a ready supply of cooking apples from a friend which are not yet ready (harvest will start around mid-August). I’ve already organised a barter set up (1 jar of jelly for a basket of apples!). I’m waiting patiently rather than buying foreign imports right now because I suspect the homegrown sort will be much nicer. That hasn’t stopped me getting started. I’m making herb salt and so far I’ve tried two individual hard herbs (sage and rosemary) and made a couple of jars of mixed herb salt. They are SO easy to do, keep well and make a great addition to all sorts of dishes. They will be perfect gifts too at Christmas time.
Here’s how you make culinary herb salt. You may need to vary the ratio of fresh herbs to salt depending on your own palate and on the intensity of the herbs you use.
An adaptable recipe for a mixed herb salt that will keep for months
- 100 g Rock Salt
- 10 g Rosemary stripped from the stalks
- 10 g Thyme stripped from the stalks
- 10 g Sage leaf only
- 2 Bay leaves
Try to harvest your herbs first thing in the morning when they will have more aromatics
You do not need to wash your herbs unless they have been sprayed or are particularly dusty. If you do wash them, leave them to dry on kitchen paper or a kitchen towel
Strip the woody stems from your herbs.
Put the salt and all the herbs in a blender and blitz for a few seconds. Check the bowl and shake to mix if you need to blitz again. Continue until you have something around the texture of rough sand
Line a baking tray with paper and spread out the salt to dry. Depending on the humidity in your kitchen this can be anything from 4 hours to overnight.
Make a paper funnel and decant the salt into jars - label and store till needed
You can make this recipe with your chosen mixture of hard stemmed herbs. You can also make single herb salt (rosemary for example). The herb salt will keep for months but the vivid green colour will darken as the herbs dry out further.
I’ve also started to make tarragon vinegar, another very easy preserve which is delicious to use in mayonnaise or when cooking fish. Since it needs to mature for a couple of weeks before it is strained, it is currently sitting in a dark cupboard, but, fingers crossed, I’ll be decanting it soon!
More about that when it’s matured properly. I’ll be sharing the recipe for Tarragon Vinegar and also for the Herb Jellies once I’m confident I’ve got it right.
In the meanwhile, I’m gradually stocking up for winter.
The Rosie Makes it Easy Herb Preserving Kit like the one I’m using costs just £19.99. There are more kits for making Jam, Mustard and Elderflower Cordial, each priced at £19.99 – you only need to add the fresh ingredients to each one, everything else is included.