Herb Infusions

Salt and sugar get a bad rap for their effects on our bodies when consumed in large quantities, but their ability to act as a preservative is often underappreciated. Salt and sugar prevent spoilage and make it difficult or impossible for undesirable bacteria to grow. The rule of thumb for salt curing is that 20% salt keeps most undesirable bacteria at bay.

Although dehydrating and freezing are the most common ways to preserve herbs, the rising popularity of artesian salts and infusions has brought attention to herbs preserved in salt or sugar. The preservative pulls moisture from the herbs while keeping their flavor intact. Leaves plucked from the jar can be used as though they were fresh. The remaining herbed salt works best as the finishing touch, but infused sugar can also work within a recipe. A little of the flavored salt or sugar goes a long way, and the herbs keep a long time.
Learn to make Salt-Preserved Herbs and Herb-Infused Sugar

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Freezer and Storage Soups

One of my off-season joys is making an easy meal that tastes as though it took time and effort to create. Soup is among the easiest—and I’m not talking poured out of a can.

Sure, there can be a lot of time-consuming dicing and mincing for freshly made soup. By planning ahead, I eliminate nearly all of that effort at mealtime. I also ensure the produce carries all the flavor my garden can generate; with a little extra effort at harvest time, there’s no need to buy a mealy tomato or flavorless broccoli.

This week, I offer you two soup recipes that I can make on a moment’s notice because their ingredients are staples in my house in winter. They’re staples because during harvest, I dry-store potatoes, dry-store or freeze onions and garlic, dehydrate smoked chilies and herbs, and freeze cherry tomatoes, broccoli, and Vegetable Stock. Hopefully this list of links and the recipes that follow will inspire you to take similar steps as you grow or buy local food in the next few months.
Learn to make Spanish Potato–Garlic Soup and Italian Broccoli–Pasta Soup

Planning the Season

Seed catalogs have been arriving for weeks, making me think about planning the garden despite the 5 feet of new snow that buried our local mountains in the last few days. This past weekend only enhanced the spring fever: I led a workshop at the 2nd annual Free the Seeds event and was impressed by not just the four-digit turnout but also the number of booths, workshops, and talks. The local Farm Hands organization lists more than 110 farms, ranches, community gardens, farmers markets, and restaurants and grocers that emphasize local food for a county with a population of under 100,000; nationally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s most recent survey found that 167,000 U.S. farms locally produced and sold food through farmers markets, on-farm sales, and other direct farmer-to-eater sales.

This means that no matter where you live, it should be possible to grow or purchase locally grown food and use it in Twice as Tasty recipes. Now’s the time to start thinking about what you want to grow in your new garden, add to your existing plot, or ensure will be delivered by your community-supported agriculture (CSA) farmer.
Read more about planning the season

Hummus

Hummus, to my mind, is like applesauce: store-bought versions are no substitute for the real deal. Fortunately, the two have many other similarities. Both are incredibly easy to make. Both only require a few, easily obtainable ingredients. And particularly when made at home, both are not just good eating but good to eat.

Although few people get excited about applesauce these days, hummus remains hugely popular. Anecdotally, I know this because I get more requests for made-from-scratch hummus than any other creation at Twice as Tasty catered events. Neil Irwin of the New York Times supports this view by ranking hummus among “foods that have generally had staying power.” When you combine it with homegrown veg or Sourdough Pita Chips and flavor it with roasted garlic, hummus is guaranteed to fly off the table.
Learn to roast garlic and make Roasted-Garlic Hummus