Now is the perfect time to pair beautiful berries and fragrant herbs in recipes that make the most of both in interesting combinations.
At The Purple Onion, we are fortunate, like the outdoor market vendors, to have regional growers who bring their produce in to us as it ripens. Those berries are ready to wash and eat with no adornment at all. Still, we know you can do more with berries than just sprinkle some delicious mint on top of a dish of strawberries.
Like any produce, herbs and berries can fill the bill for anything from appetizers to desserts. Here are a few ideas for sweet matches and some recipes that make the best of berry and herb combos!
- Blackberries like mint and basil. They also pair well with oregano, rosemary, sage and thyme.
- Raspberries match well with thyme, basil, oregano and bay.
- Blueberries are the most versatile of all the berries. These blue beauties take to lavender, thyme, oregano, marjoram, rosemary, basil and sage.
- Strawberries partner well with mint, basil and lavender.
Be sure to use herbs that are as fresh as your berries. If you’re using hardy herbs like sage, rosemary and thyme, mince them as fine as possible. Soft herbs like basil and mint are fine when simply cut into a rough chop.
Quench your thirst all day long with these herb and berry infused water treats. You can make them and store them in the refrigerator for up to two days, if you think they’ll last that long! These pairings are inspired by The Flavor Bible, a detailed reference guide of ingredients and the flavors that pair well with them, as recommended by creative chefs.
Ever since we served this Strawberry and Blue Cheese Bruschetta, folks have begged us to bring it to summer picnics. We think it will top your list of favorites, too!
Give everyone’s favorite berries a go in this Fresh Berry and Herb Salad. It can stand alone for a light lunch or shine on a brunch or dinner table.
Would it even be summer without a strawberry shortcake dessert? We think not, although we think you could dare to switch this recipe up with blackberries or raspberries for a just as memorable ending to your meal.
Tips for taking care of berries and herbs
Berries don’t last long. Store blueberries, raspberries and blackberries in your refrigerator. Keep them dry in the containers they come in. Put those berries right up front, and avoid storing them in the coldest part of the refrigerator where they can get frost damage.
Strawberries tend to dry out in the refrigerator, so consider storing them on a dry towel with a damp towel over them and eat them in a day or two.
Wash only the amount of berries that you are going to eat right before you eat them. Storing them dirty is OK because soggy and damp berries don’t last long. Give blueberries and strawberries a quick rinse in a bowl of water and move to a colander or strainer. Then move them to paper towels to dry.
Blackberries and raspberries don’t like much fuss. If you must clean them, give them a quick spritz with water and dry them quickly.
Herbs, like berries, have different care needs.
If you have an herb garden, don’t let that treasure get away from you! Whether you use your herbs regularly or not, remember to give them some love and prune them. You need to do this because it’s good for the health of the plants and encourages fresh growth, giving you bushier foliage instead of a spindly tall and thin plant. Pruning allows you to control the size of the plant itself and the size of your garden or herb bed.
Once you bring herbs indoors, store them properly. Generally, herbs fall into soft and hard categories. With all herbs, wash them when you bring them in to remove dirt and bacteria that could promote quick decay. Simply rinse herbs gently under cold running water and remove the moisture in a salad spinner or with dry kitchen or paper towels.
Soft herbs such as parsley, cilantro, basil and mint like the wet jar storage method. Gather the herbs in a bunch and trim the ends. If your herbs come with a band around them, remove that. Place the greens in a wide-mouth jar and add enough cool water to cover the ends but not touch the leaves.
Cover the top of the herbs with a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator, replacing the water every couple of days. If you’ve got basil, use this method but don’t refrigerate this herb. Instead, leave it on the kitchen counter where it gets sunlight.
Hard herbs with woody stems — such as sage, rosemary, thyme and oregano — do better when loosely wrapped in a slightly damp paper towel to stay moist. Place in a tightly sealed container or resealable bag in your refrigerator.
Check the herbs from time to time to be sure the paper towel has not dried out. If you store a lot of herbs like this, consider purchasing an organic cotton reusable herb/produce bag.