ItLearning how to preserve herbs is an easy way to add flavor to everything you make, year-round. If you grow your own herbs, or like to cook with fresh herbs, you might find yourself with more herbs than you can use.
Here are some easy ways to preserve those fresh herbs and use them all year long.
Fresh herbs add flavor and nutrients to any meal. From soups, stews, and sauces, to salads and even smoothies.
If you’re growing your own herbs, be sure to harvest herbs after flower buds appear, but before they open. They will have the highest concentration of essential oil at this point, which is what gives them a superior flavor.
I like to harvest herbs early in the morning after the dew has evaporated.
How to Dry Herbs
There are two ways to dry herbs.
This works best with herbs like oregano, thyme, marjoram, and sage. Herbs like basil and parsley, which have thick leaves, are better dried in a dehydrator.
Before drying the herbs, gently wash the herbs, or shake to remove dirt. Discard any withered leaves.
If you’ve washed the herbs, be sure to let them dry thoroughly to prevent mildew.
Bind the stems together using twine or a rubber band. Hang upside down in a warm, dry, and well-ventilated place away from direct sunlight. Cover the bundles with a paper bag, large enough for air to circulate if a dark hanging spot isn’t available.
Leave the herbs to dry from 1 to 4 weeks or until the leaves begin to crumble. Store in an airtight container for up to a year.
I prefer to air dry herbs. But oven drying herbs is certainly quicker.
To oven dry herbs, spread them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place in a 150°F oven with the door slightly ajar.
Let the herbs dry for 1 to 4 hours or until crumbly. Store in an airtight container for up to a year.
Best Herbs for Drying
- Scented geraniums
How to Freeze Herbs
Freezing works best with leafy herbs like basil, cilantro, parsley, and tarragon. It helps preserve herbs essential oils, which is what gives tremendous flavor to food.
Ice Cube Trays:
Using ice cube trays is a quick and easy method for preserving herbs. I find myself freezing parsley often. It’s perfect for adding to soups, stews, and recipes throughout the year. Long after the herb garden becomes dormant.
Or to preserve leftovers from the bundle you bought at the market.
Clean herbs and let air dry, or dry with a paper towel. Remove most of the stems and portion into ice cube trays. If the herb leaves are large, roughly chop them.
Cover the herbs with water, using as little as possible. You only want to cover the herbs.
Freeze the herbs until solid. Once frozen, remove from the ice cube trays and store in a labeled air-tight freezer container.
Another option is to blend herbs, or a combination of herbs, in oil. Make a paste with the herbs and oil and then freeze in an ice cube tray.
Herbs that Freeze Well
- Basil (retains flavor, but discolors)
- Lemon balm
- Lemon verbena
- Sweet cicely
- Sweet marjoram