During the summer I cook with fresh herbs almost daily, using my own from the garden. It’s one of my favorite things about summertime and cooking. There was a time I could keep fresh herbs growing in the kitchen during the winter months but we have a cat who likes to eat and dig them up so that is no longer an option. Hence I find myself having to buy fresh herbs at the grocery store during the winter months.
The other day I was going to experiment with some tomato and basil bisque recipes but when I went to the supermarket, there was no fresh basil. What to do? Get back in the car and drive to another store? And believe me, that was not in my schedule. As I kept walking through the produce section, thinking perhaps I’d find a stray bunch hidden behind an apple or mixed in with the parsley, I saw those tubes of fresh herbs and spices. I had never used them before, thinking they weren’t “fresh” and that they would probably taste artificial. But being in a time crunch that day, along with feeling sick and run down, I thought, what the heck, if it doesn’t work, I’ll just scrap the recipes, and try them at another time. It was one of those days.
Not knowing what to expect, let’s just say I was more than happy with the results. Really happy.
The product I bought was Gourmet Garden Basil Stir-In Paste.
I stirred in the paste at the end of the soup cooking, swirled it around a bit, and it was perfect. I actually enjoyed the paste over real herbs when it came to the texture and ease of controlling the flavor. After enjoying the various versions of soup that night, I went online and researched what I had just used. And I liked what I read…
The particular tube of paste I used, which was basil, contained 3 bunches of organically grown in Australia, sweet basil. All of the herbs and spices (the stir-in pastes) are harvested at their peak, which maximizes their flavors and then washed, chopped, blended, and packed into handy tubes. The varieties include: basil, chili pepper, cilantro, Italian herbs, garlic, chunky garlic, ginger, lemongrass, oregano, parsley, and Thai. It is certified organic, doesn’t contain artificial colors, flavors or preservatives, is GM free, and gluten-free. And the tubes are recyclable.
Let me again stress, it tasted great. Besides taste, which is obviously important or you wouldn’t use it again, the price and length of freshness is really great. You use Gourmet Garden Stir-In Pastes the same way you would use fresh herbs and spices when cooking. Once opened, it stays fresh for up to 90 days or until the end of the “best before date.” Better yet, you can put it in the freezer between every use which actually extends the life to 3 months past the expiration date. Which means no throwing “past their prime” herbs away, saving money.
When following a recipe, you simply replace the fresh herb or spice in a 1:1 ratio. When I cook with fresh herbs I typically add them towards the end of the cooking process, which is what I did with the basil paste. (With spices, you typically add them at the beginning of the cooking process.)
I’m actually glad the grocery store was out of fresh basil that day, otherwise I might never have tried this. The price is good, the product stays fresh forever, the taste is delicious, and nothing goes to waste. Perfect for any of your favorite recipes, and particularly great for stir-in sauces, soups, stir-fries, marinades and dressings. You should be able to find it in the fresh produce section of your local supermarket. I bought mine at Safeway, on sale for $3 (regular price $3.99.)
Check out all the different herbs and spices available…