It is February, the perfect time to discuss the fresh is better debate. Are hydroponic tomatoes and herbs really better than those properly preserved at the peak of the season in the summer? Been thinking about it all morning.
I love a fresh sauce. Inspired by Eugenia Bone, I adapted items from our pantry and freezer to create a sauce to go over store bought ravioli. After defrosting an ice cube of basil and heating it with cured minced garlic, I added dried oregano and a jar of plain tomato sauce. Everything was grown on our two properties and processed in our home kitchen last summer.
The flavors were absolutely bursting from these simple ingredients.
It isn’t even magical anymore that I can drive 10 miles to a grocery store and pick out anything I want in the produce section. Of course there is a cost. There is always a cost. To make the sauce now, we would have to purchase tasteless paste tomatoes, hydroponic basil and oregano plus a bulb of soft neck garlic. There is nothing wrong with any of these ingredients. It can be done, but it would be expensive and taste like it came out of a jar.
By processing our crops at peak ripeness, not only do we save money, we maintain much of the wonderful flavors of summer. This sauce was made with produce we grew out at the farm and in our kitchen garden. What I love about it is the different persevering techniques used. The garlic was field cured then dried in the rafters of the barn.
The tomatoes are grown in the garden adjacent to the farmhouse, picked when perfectly ripe then pureed and reduced into a velvety sauce. Oregano is a prolific perennial that takes over the herb garden if I don’t trim it every few weeks. For best flavor, I cut it early in the morning then dry for several hours in our dehydrator.
Some herbs are just better frozen. Basil is one of them. We harvest, again in the morning, then chop in the food processor with olive oil. This paste is put into ice cube trays, topped with more oil, frozen then stored in bags until needed.
That was a pretty cool lunch made perfectly from preserved produce in the middle of winter.