Has anyone ever seen a pre-assembled bouquet garni for sale in stores? I'm trying to avoid the expense and waste of buying so many packages of herbs, now that it's the dead of winter.
I've never seen that. But most herbs freeze nicely, so what you could do is buy the packages, and assemble a bunch of bouquets, wrap them with twine, or stick them in a coffee filter and then tie up, and keep them in a freezer bag in the freezer.
Great idea mrslarkin! Some stores sell herbs in a bulk way, where you can buy as little or as much as you want.
Of course another alternative is to simply grow your own herbs and snip off as much as you need and tie them up in cheese cloth. You can even do this in colder zones if you have a sunny window. It's ironic that greenhouse herb starts typically cost no more than a little packet of "fresh" herbs in the supermarket. I always have thyme, tarragon, sage and rosemary going.
It never occurred to me that herbs freeze well, thank you! I wish I could grow my own, but my windows face north and nothing will grow, sadly.
Even with north-facing windows, you can probably get shade-tolerant plants to grow (and most bouquet garni herbs are). They might not grow all that fast, but they'll grow. In the winter I usually have a few things growing slowly inside. I end up buying about half as many fresh herbs.
I have seen a package of various herbs sold as bouquet garnis at my Whole Foods (in Chicago), but I didn't take notice of what was included. They sell it as just a little plastic box of fresh herbs in the refrigerated section, no cheesecloth.
I have seen the little plastic boxes, (just like the ones that have a bunch of one type of herb in them) with mixed herbs. At first I thought that that was odd, but it is pretty clever for people who need a bit of this and a bit of that, or a bouquet garni.
pre-made fresh bouquet garni are pretty common in french markets. Here in South Africa I find ready-made dry ones at the high-end supermarkets. Being lazy, I do use them.
I always hate messing around with cutting cheese cloth (I have a piece of re-usable I use for most things), but a trick I learned in Spain from Visi Irizar is to take a large, outer leaf from a leak, maybe 8" long, put the herbs inside that, fold it over and tie.
Indeed Keller does something similar to Irizar.