Preserve Your Herbs

Fresh herbs are ah-maze-ing! Whether store bought, from the farmers’ market, or harvested from your own garden, fresh herbs add a boost of flavor to any dish. However, I often find that the bulk of my fresh herbs tend to wilt and go bad before I have the chance to use them all.

photo 1 (1)To reduce waste and save your herbs from the compost bin, try one of these preserving methods: drying, freezing, or steeping.

Drying

Dried herbs are more potent than fresh herbs. Often 1 tsp dried herbs = 1 tablespoon fresh herbs. 

Hang Dry

photo 4

1. Wash and pat dry the herbs
2. Remove the leaves from the lower part of the stem
3. Create small bunches (approx 5-10 stems per bunch) and tie together at the bottom
4. Hang in a dry and warm area that is also dark and has good ventilation. Areas that do not get a lot of traffic are best. If you do not have a dark area in your house, cover the tops of the stems with a paper bag and poke ventilation holes in the bag.
5. Let the herbs dry for 1-3 weeks. Once the leaves are ‘crumbly’ your herbs are ready. Time will depend on the thickness of the stems.
6. Store dried herbs in airtight jars- glass is best, but any jar should do.
Tip: 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius) is the optimal drying temperature

Towel Dry

DryingPaperTowel

1.Wash and pat dry the herbs
2. Lay two paper towels on the counter top, one on top of the other
3. Place herbs in rows on 1/2 of the paper towel
4. Lay another paper towel, folded in 1/2, over the herbs
5. Add another layer of herbs on top of the new paper towel
6. Fold the other 1/2 of the first set of paper towels over the 2nd layer of herbs
7. Let leaves dry for 2-3 days. Herbs are finished drying once crumbly
8. Store in zip-lock baggies or plastic containers
Tip: Make sure herbs are completely dry before placing on paper towels.

Freezing

Soft leafed herbs, such as basil, tarragon, parsley, and cilantro, are better preserved through freezing rather than drying. Some herbs, like chives, can only be frozen.

Ice Cubes

1. Wash and pat dry the herbs
2. Separate the leaves from the stems
3. Fill each ice cube spot with 1/3 fresh herbs and 2/3 water or olive oil
4. Freeze and remove cubes from trays
5. Store in freezer bags and remove as needed
Tip: The use of water verses olive oil is a matter of preference. Cubed herbs are best when making soups or sauces. 

 Flash Freeze

FreezeHerbs

1. Wash and pat dry the herbs
2. Separate the leaves from the stems
3. Line a clean baking tray with parchment or wax paper
4. Place leaves on the tray, leaving space in between each leaf
5. Place the tray in the freezer and remove once leaves are frozen
6. Transfer the leaves into plastic bags and store in the freezer
Tip: Flash frozen herbs are not good for garnish, but are wonderful for cooking. Do not re-freeze thawed herbs.

Blanched

1. Wash and pat dry the herbs
2. Separate the leaves from the stems
3. Blanch for 3-4 seconds in hot water and immediately dip into ice cold water
4. Place into freezer bags or containers and place in the freezer
Tip: Blanched herbs will keep for 6 months.

Steeping

Herbs steeped in oil will last 6 months and are great for pan cooking. 

SteepingHerbs

1. Wash and pat dry the herbs
2. Decide whether you want to keep the stems or just the leaves (leaves cannot be removed from stems easily after being steeped)
3. Choose an oil. Olive oil is best, but other oils work too
4. Place herbs in a bottle (with stems) or a short, wide container (leaves only) and fill with oil
5. Store in a cool, refrigerated space.
Tip: Short, wide containers make it easier to spoon or scoop out herbs. Bottles (herbs with stems) make for beautiful decorations. 

Additional Resources:

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2 responses to “Preserve Your Herbs

    • I agree. Drying has worked really well for me. I keep my empty store bought glass containers and refill them with freshly dried herbs.

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