Time flies in the garden! It feels like we barely had time to enjoy my favorite garden herb this spring before the hot weather came and it went to seed:
Our lovage is now enormous. Hovering around six feet, it's taller than I am! I am letting the yellow flower heads go to seed this year and hope to gather them to use as a seasoning the way you would with celery or fennel seed.
Once lovage goes to seed, the leaves just don't taste the same way they did in the cool, spring weather. They're kind of bitter, and not as flavorful. That's why this year I thought I'd try freezing some at their best for later use in cooking. Frozen herbs won't ever be crisp again, but they'll still impart their flavor in recipes.
It seemed a little strange to try to make pesto cubes out of lovage, although I suppose I could have. It's just that we don't usually use it chopped so finely or blended into a pesto. While poking around the internet, I found a suggestion to make herb "cigars" to freeze. Here's how I did it:
First, I pulled all the leaves off the stems, keeping them intact:
I kept the nice ones, and got rid of the crummy ones. Then I put them, dry, into a gallon size freezer bag:
Once I was done with all the leaves, I pressed them all down to the bottom of the bag, working out the air:
With the air pressed out, I sealed the bag, then rolled it up tightly into a cigar shape:
Finally, I secured the bag with rubber bands and labeled it:
The idea here is that once this is frozen solid, I should be able to cut off a piece of lovage as required, kind of the way you would with a frozen roll of cookie dough if you have self-control and are only going to make a few cookies at a time.
One of the fun things about lovage? It has hollow stems:
I think the best possible use for this is as a straw for a Bloody Mary, instead of the typical celery stalk garnish. In fact, I think using lovage instead of celery changes the drink so much for the better that we should change its name. I propose calling it a Bloody Mary Magdalene, as lovage was considered an aphrodisiac in Medieval times. We also use our own horseradish for these, and that tastes much better in the fall than it is in the spring, so it's worthwhile to try to save some lovage to enjoy in these drinks later.
I saved the nicest, most straw-like stems and cut them to a reasonable, straw-like length:
Then I froze them in a similar manner as the lovage leaves:
Freezing herbs always makes me glad in the knowledge that, at some unknown date several months from now, we'll be able to savor the flavors of spring once again.