Canning and Preserving Herbs: 13 Recipes

| August/September 1995

  • Cupboards full of jars that capture the flavors of the garden harvest at its peak are a comforting late-summer sight.
  • Pick a peck of pickles: Dill Pickles, Pickled Green Beans with Savory, and Pickled Cherries with Hyssop.
  • Blueberries with Orange Liqueur and Lavender make a luscious topping for a lemon layer cake, Apricots with Anisette and Fennel grace a footed dish, while tucked into a pot of rosemary is a jar of Plums in Plum Wine with Rosemary.
  • Feathery bronze fennel is as handsome in a jar of fruit as it is in the garden.

Summer Recipes:

• Dill Pickles
• Mushroom Ketchup
• Sweet Onion Preserves
• Pickled Green Beans with Savory
• Pickled Cherries with Hyssop
• Mint Sambal 
• Apple-Lovage Chutney
• Tomatillo Salsa
• Zucchini Relish
• Herb Jelly
• Apricots with Anisette and Fennel
• Plums in Plum Wine with Rosemary
• Blueberries with Orange Liqueur and Lavender 

DIY: Boiling-Water Method of Preserving 

Ah! The beautiful rows of spar­kling jars of jams and jellies. The tantalizing aromas of simmering chutneys and relishes. The tang of homemade ketchups and sauces.

Evocative prose about the joys of preserving summer’s bounty always makes me chuckle. Having grown up in a rural household where “putting up” meant food on the table during the winter, my memories are less than idyllic. Unrelenting heat and mind-numbing hours spent preparing fruits and vegetables are the dominant recollection. If truth be told, though, I also recall the feeling of pride and satisfaction at the end of a long day, to say nothing of my pleasure in getting to eat the foam skimmed from the jelly.

Today, I no longer need to make and stockpile all manner of homemade goodies, but rampant supplies of herbs, garden produce, and creative urges (coupled with air conditioning and a continued love of gardening and great food) mean that come late summer, I’m once more in the kitchen surrounded by canning jars, herbs, vegetables, and fruits. Friends look forward to gifts from this outpouring of energy, too, and who can complain about having Christmas pres­ents ready by September?

Although my basic approach to cooking is to have a recipe in front of me, my resourceful (Mother would call it rebellious) nature likes to experiment, especially with herbs. I encourage you to do the same. If you have a favorite pickle, jelly, or relish recipe, consider which herbs would complement it. Beans, beets, carrots, pearl onions, and okra are easily pickled. Potential herbal companions include common and lemon thymes, tarragon, dill, fennel, marjoram, rosemary, and sage. And don’t forget to add a sprig of basil and a clove of garlic to each jar of tomatoes when you can them. Canned fruit becomes sophisticated fare when herbs are added, perhaps with a bit of brandy or liqueur. Basils, lemon thyme, angelica, lavender, mint, and sweet cicely are the first herbs that come to mind to use with preserved fruits, but don’t overlook anise, sage, rosemary, and other savory herbs.

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