from the April 1986 "Drying Times "

by Barb Moody

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.

Herb butters are easy to make. Use salted or unsalted sweet cream butter (traditional French chefs used only the unsalted variety). Margarine may also be used. When substituting fresh herbs for dried ones, double the amount used. 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.)

Preparing Herb Butters:

Let butter stand at room temperature until softened. Add herbs and mix well. Lemon juice should be added slowly to prevent curdling. Dried herbs should be crumbled directly into the butter. When lemon juice is used, the dried herbs may be first soaked in the juice. Use crumbled, dried herbs rather than powdered ones. Fresh herbs should be finely chopped before adding to the softened butter. If using dried herbs, let mixture stand at room temperatures for 2 hours to allow flavors to blend. If using fresh herbs, the mixture should be chilled for at least 3 hours.

Serve softened herb butters in pottery bowls. 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.

Herb butters should be used within a day or two. For longer storage butters should be frozen. Many cooks like to freeze butter in small pats or balls, which can be used a single serving at a time.

Herb Butter Magic

Here is a mouth-watering collection of herb butter ideas. Each recipe is meant to be used with 1 cube (1/4 pound) of butter. Follow the directions in the previous article for making these great butters. Experiment with your own special combinations, the possibilities are endless. Enjoy!

Fines Herb Butter

Use on meats, fish, or vegetables. Great on cheese and egg dishes.

Mint Butter

A wonderful touch on lamb, or use on new potatoes, carrots or green peas.

Mixed Herb Butter

Use on broiled meat or fish. Great on noodles or broiled tomatoes.

Basil Butter

Use on zucchini, green beans, or summer squash. Wonderful for sauteed fish. Use to top poached eggs or noodles.

Tarragon Butter

Use on lamb or fish. Adds a unique flavor to tomato dishes, eggs, cheese, or noodles.

Orange Butter

Use on waffles, muffins, hot cereal, or baked fruit.

Sage Butter

Use on poultry, or lamb chops, veal, or vegetables.

Cucumber-Dill Butter

A delightful combination for fish.