The Thyme to Save Your Herb Stems is Now

Waste not, Want Not. Extracting maximum flavor from your herb stems.

In my many years as a chef, I have never seen a cook take the time, or have the time, to pull every single herb leaf from its stem. Not a big deal as fresh herbs when bought in bulk are fragments of a penny per leaf. When comparing herbs to labor it becomes an equation of whether you want to exude the additional labor costs, or dismiss a few herb leafs.

Can you have the best of both worlds?

By simply submerging your herb stems (thyme, oregano and rosemary work best) in a container of vinegar, after a resting period of a few days, you will soon have an herbal infused vinegar. Personally I like to use either an inexpensive cider or rice wine vinegar as they both have a great base flavor with a color suitable for many applications without risking discoloration of neighboring ingredients. Balsamic vinegar is another option, whichever you decide to use, this solely depends on your choice of application. Keep in mind that the herb flavors will intensify if you allow at least a week to steep. To further elevate the flavor balance and layers, simply add a few slivers of onion and a bay leaf, or even a couple toasted peppercorns…YUM.

My personal favorite uses:

  • Use in Vinaigrette.
  • In Marinades.
  • In a quick style BBQ sauce.
  • Use for a mignonette in raw bar presentations.
  • I love to roast chicken thighs in about 1/4″ of infused vinegar. By the time the chicken thighs are cooked, the vinegar should be reduced to a vinegar glaze consistency; add sea salt = sea salt & vinegar chicken.
  • A splash splash here, a splash splash there, here a splash, there a splash, everywhere a splash splash. Point being, use in all applications that could use a bit of citric brightness.

May your life and stomach always be full,
Chef Tim

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