Herb butters taste like a luxury but are actually so easy to make and use that they could become part of your everyday meals.
Add a touch of elegance to your next meal with your own homemade herb butter. Use herb butters on breads, canapes, sandwiches, or, with vegetables, meats, fish or eggs. The fresh taste of herbs and the rich flavor of butter makes an enticing combination that will add an exquisite touch to any dish.
Preparing Herb Butters:
A general rule of thumb for making herb butters is: for every cube of butter (1/2 cup, or 1/4 pound), use 1 tablespoon of finely chopped, fresh herbs; 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoon of crumbled dried herbs; or 1/2 teaspoon of ground seeds (i.e. dill seed, fennel seed, etc.). Use the smaller amount of herbs called for in the recipe if working with especially strong tasting herbs such as sage and rosemary; be a little more generous with the amount you include when the herb is a mild one like parsley & basil.
Use salted or unsalted sweet cream butter. Let butter stand at room temperature until softened.
Use crumbled, dried herbs rather than powdered ones. Dried herbs should be crumbled directly into the butter. Fresh herbs should be finely chopped before adding to the softened butter.
Put the softened butter in a bowl. Using a spoon or fork, mash it together with the herbs until thoroughly combined.
(If you started with unsalted butter, you can add salt to taste (those on salt-restricted diets may find herb butters are a flavorful way to skip the salt altogether).
Scoop the herb butter onto a piece or waxed or parchment paper. Shape it into a log by rolling it in the paper. Wrap the herb butter tightly and twist the end of the paper to seal it or fold ends as if wrapping a present and tuck underneath. Place in the refrigerator for about 2 hours to harden and allow the flavours to develop.
Be sure label each log so you remember what herbs are in each butter log.
Store up to 2 months in refrigerator. If storing for longer than a month or two, put the wax or parchment paper-wrapped herb butter into a freezer bag and freeze for up to 6 months. The herb butter will still be safe to eat after that, but the quality will decline significantly.
To use the herb butter, simply slice off the amount needed. Or make thin slices to be served at the table.
For a special touch, form chilled butter into curls, rounds, or squares. Use a melon baller to make butter balls, or use butter molds to create fancy shapes.
For something different you could flatten the butter to approximately 1/2- 3/4 inch thick, then use any shape of cookie cutters to cut out some shapes out of the flattened butter. Flower shapes look good. Try these shapes or thick slices of the rolled style melted on steaks, other barbeque meats, vegetables or into soups and sauces for flavour or add to baked potatoes.
Many cooks like to freeze butter in small pats or balls, which can be used a single serving at a time.
Here are just a few ideas for which herbs go well with certain foods but just let your imagination run riot and see what delicious combinations that you can come up with:
- Fish: parsley, fennel, dill, chervil, lemon thyme, lime basil, lemon balm
- Meat: marjoram, garlic, rosemary, mint, basil
- Chicken: tarragon, basil, sage, rosemary, thyme
- Vegetables esp. beans and tomatoes: basil, thyme
- Egg based dishes: chives, chervil, dill, parsley, basil, tarragon
Herb Butter Recipes
Each recipe is meant to be used with 1 cube (1/4 pound) of butter. Experiment with your own special combinations, the possibilities are endless. Enjoy!
Fines Herb Butter
- 1-1/2 teaspoon parsley
- 3/4 teaspoon tarragon
- 1/2 teaspoon rosemary
- 1/2 teaspoon chives
Use on meats, fish, or vegetables. Great on cheese and egg dishes.
- 3 Tablespoon fresh mint
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
A wonderful touch on lamb, or use on new potatoes, carrots or green peas.
Mixed Herb Butter
- 1 tablespoon fresh minced tarragon
- 1 tablespoon fresh minced chervil
- 1 tablespoon fresh minced dill
- 1 tablespoon fresh minced chives
- 1 tablespoon fresh minced mint
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
Use on broiled meat or fish. Great on pasta.
- 3 tablespoons fresh minced basil
- 1-1/2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley
Use on zucchini, green beans, or summer squash. Wonderful for pasta. Use to top poached eggs or sauteed fish.
- 2 tablespoons fresh minced tarragon
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
Use on lamb or fish. Adds a unique flavor to tomato dishes, eggs, cheese, or noodles.
- 1 tablespoon fresh minced sage
- 1/2 teaspoon dried celery leaves or 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
- 1 teaspoon onion juice or finely minced onion
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
Use on poultry, or lamb chops, veal, or vegetables.