Twice as Tasty

Compound Herb Butter

Homegrown, seasonal herbs keep their fresh flavor when mixed into butter and refrigerated or frozen

By Julie Laing

Perennial herbs are the first edibles to appear in my garden every spring. Chives, mint and oregano are quickly followed by red sorrel, garlic chives and wild violets, whose blossoms are edible. Soon cilantro, dill and parsley that I let go to seed the prior fall will appear, trailed – if I’m lucky – by sage, rosemary, thyme, tarragon and French sorrel that survived winter. That’s not to mention the annual edible herbs and flowers like basils and nasturtiums that I will plant for a summer crop.

All of these herbs can be enjoyed fresh or saved for later use. As I’ve shared previously, drying herbs is one of the easiest ways to enjoy them all year. Another delicious, but more laborious, option is homemade pesto, which can be expanded beyond basil to cilantro, arugula, parsley, mint and more. A third technique lets you capture fresh herb flavor with minimal effort: compound herb butter.

A compound butter is quite simply any butter that has been flavored with other ingredients. It can be shaped and molded, and perhaps topped with decorative fresh edible herbs or flowers, for a fancy presentation. For home use, I simply roll it into a log that can be sliced into slabs and melted on toast, stirred into pasta or roasted vegetables or dotted down a black cod fillet before I set it on the grill. I also mix up my favorite lime butter, flecked with zest and brightened by smoked paprika, to slather on grilled corn.

Flavored butter keeps well in the fridge, but at the end of the season I often make several variations and freeze them to use all year. The combinations may include dill and roasted garlic, sorrel and chives, nasturtium and thyme and sage with orange zest. If you have a sharp, sturdy knife, you can cut slices directly from the frozen logs.

Compound Herb Butter

Makes 1/2 cup

1/2 cup butter

2-4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs or edible flowers, such as chives or nasturtiums

1-2 cloves minced fresh or roasted garlic (optional)

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (optional)

Bring the butter to room temperature. In a small bowl, cream the butter with a fork until it is smooth and pliable. Work in the herbs and any other flavors.

Form the compound butter into a log. Place it on one edge of a piece of parchment paper, and then roll the paper around the butter, folding in the ends as you roll, until it is completely enclosed. Seal the exposed edges of the parchment paper with masking tape, write the flavors on the tape, and place the roll in a zip-close freezer bag. Refrigerate the butter for at least one hour, until firm, or freeze it for up to six months. To use, remove the roll from the bag, peel back one end of the paper and slice into 1/4-inch rounds. Makes 1/2 cup.

Julie Laing is a Bigfork-based cookbook author and food blogger at TwiceAsTasty.com.

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.