Compounding Assets

Since last week’s Preserve the Bounty challenge, my sauerkraut has been joined by a jar of lacto-fermented pickles and a batch of fermented ketchup is on the books in the next few days, so I’d say this has already been a great thing for me! This week’s challenge was to preserve vegetables in some sort of fat or oil, and based on my stores, I decided to run with several varieties of compound butter. I’m not yet at a point where I can make or buy organic or raw butter, due to budgetary restrictions, so I just used ordinary unsalted butter for this. I really want to try making cultured butter sometime soon, however.

I actually made this basil butter a few weeks back, as part of my basil storage plan. Essentially, I just chucked all my excess basil in the food processor and minced it up; most of it got mixed with a splash of olive oil and spread out flat in a plastic sandwich baggie for seasoning future meals, but I saved a little to stir into softened butter with garlic and salt. This was delicious slathered onto sweet corn before roasting.

The other night I used some of the basil butter to make sautéed cucumbers and a scallion butter sauce for broiled wild salmon (I broil mine with the skin-side up to protect the cooking fish and get all crispy, if you’re into fish skin; if you’re not, the skin peels off easily before serving). The basil plant I am nurturing has grown just enough in the intervening weeks that I was able to harvest a few leaves from it for a garnish, which was pretty exciting. Of course, I’m mostly just excited that it is even alive, given my track record.

I also made compound butters from dried peaches and tomatoes. The peach compound butter incorporated minced oven-dried peach slices, some homemade hazelnut praline powder, and a few spoonfuls of my peach butter, which has been going into absolutely everything lately.

The tomato butter was made to highlight oven-dried yellow tomato “raisins”. I sauteed some garlic in part of the butter until very fragrant, then stirred in the minced tomatoes, a bit of salt and some smoked paprika. I’ve made sun-dried tomato butter before using commercially dried tomatoes and had good luck with it, so I suspect this would be similarly delicious tossed with pasta, spread on sourdough for garlic toast, or topping a seared hunk of meat.

Although we haven’t given the tomato butter a test run yet, I did serve some of the peach compound butter, which I’ve been calling peach peach-butter butter just for fun, over 4-grain pancakes, and it was absolutely divine, just sweet enough from the praline with a light peach flavor.

The peach compound butter is on the left in the photo; the tomato “raisin” butter is on the right. I thought the idea of mushroom compound butter was an excellent one, since I usually can’t manage to use up a bag of wild mushrooms before they start drying out; this one will go in the future file. Can’t wait to see what the next preservation challenge is!

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2 thoughts on “Compounding Assets

  1. Bellen
    August 17, 2010 at 9:22 am

    Have an over abundance of basil – let it go to seed and now have a gazillion plants.
    Never thought of compound butter or even mixed with oil to preserve – only dried. So another good use.

    When I have mushrooms on the verge, I chop and saute in olive oil and then freeze in 1/2 cup portions – using a snack size zip bag – it’s the right portion for the 2 of us.

    I’ll have to think of more ways for compound butter -with strawberries for sure and since we’ll have oranges and calamondums this year, maybe those too.

  2. August 18, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    Bellen, thanks for the tip about the mushrooms! I don’t know how I never thought of that myself! When I have large enough amounts of herbs, I sometimes chop them and toss them with a little oil or water, and then freeze them in my silicone ice cube tray rather than a plastic baggie pancake. Either way is easy to store, and the herbs taste fresher than dried, though they aren’t as nice to look at as the fresh ones.

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