Gardener's Grapevine 2013.02.06

Written by David Green.

Super Bowl Sunday. Oh, goody, where’s the television? That was sarcasm if you don’t know me. I finally understand football after many years of avoiding it, however, unless my good friends’ son Zack is playing I just don’t put it at the top of my gotta do or see list. My husband, however, has been cooking all afternoon to get ready for the game and it’s just us going to be here. I won’t have to cook all week, that’s something I can get excited over.

I’m not much of a cook and that’s putting it very lightly. I’d rather push mow the entire lawn on a hot day than cook one meal. Art, however, is an excellent cook and loves it—you go, big guy. As we wandered around the store gathering the items he needed, I looked over the selection of produce displayed. Produce at this time of year is grossly overpriced for the quality and you have to search  for the best offerings. It makes one salivate thinking of the beautiful fruit and vegetables that come from our own well-planned gardens and fruit trees.

One of the items on his list was crushed tomatoes. Really? When we have jar after jar of canned red goodness, no way is that going in our cart. Next item, please. 

After looking at the price of cilantro and coriander I am so glad we harvest our own. Coriander is the seed that forms on the cilantro plant. First, you harvest the plant, dry it, strip the leaves, crush them and place it in a  jar. I like to store it in the freezer, but once it’s dried it can go on the shelf just as well.

Coriander forms on the plant later in its life cycle. It is the seed of the plant, and it starts out green. As it dries it turns a light brown color. I harvest it, which takes some work unless you cut the entire plant and put it on a drying mat in the food dehydrator for 12 hours to make sure it’s good and dry. Your home will smell like cilantro, so if you don’t like the smell, do it in the garage. I love the smell. It smells so fresh and green to me. After the dehydrator, you can store it whole or grind it. I store it the same way as the cilantro, in a glass jar in the freezer. I use the freezer because it seems to seal in the flavor and glass does not pull the flavor out like plastic does.

If I buy herbs and spices I try to avoid plastic containers as they tend to rob the flavor from the spice or herb. Why spend cold hard earned money on something that’s only partially there? I use the same process above for my pesto, also. If I’m pressed for time and the basil needs harvesting I will cut it and dehydrate it and make the pesto up later or as needed. I love fresh basil pesto any time of the year thrown over hot pasta with some chicken tossed in or maybe shrimp. Now that’s fresh. Hope your team won.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2014