My basil and other fresh herbs are the only thing loving this rainy weather this year. While you are getting your fall garden ready or just feeling the cooler air roll into your area it is now time to think about your herb garden. Don’t let all your hard work keeping your herbs alive go to waste.
You can also do a lot of other things with your herbs besides just picking and using.
Pick off a good size branch of your basil, mint, or rosemary, take off the lower leaves and place in water near a window. Soon you will have roots you can plant in a pot by a sunny window for the winter.
4 Ways HOW TO PRESERVE HERBS
You can also simply chop your herbs and place in a freezer baggie for a quick addition to a stew or sauce. I have found this works great with parsley, basil and cilantro. Just be sure to label them because they do all look the same in the freezer bags!!
These should last a few months in the freezer.
Three Ways to Preserve Herbs
1. To Air-Dry:
Gather 5-10 branches together and tie with string or a rubber band. The smaller the bundle, the easier and faster they will dry.
Put the bundle of herbs, stem-side up, in a paper bag. Tie the end of the bag closed, being sure not to crush the herbs as you do, and poke a few holes in the bag for ventilation.
Hang the bag by the stem end in a warm, well-ventilated room.
Your herbs may be dried and ready to store in as little as one week.
While you are getting your fall garden ready or just feeling the cooler air roll into your area it is now time to think about your herb garden. Don’t let all your hard work keeping your herbs alive go to waste.
2. To Freeze Herbs:
Some herbs keep their flavor best when frozen. These include basil, chives, chervil, dill, lemon balm, mints, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, French tarragon, thyme, and lemon verbena.Wash them thoroughly and shake or pat off the excess water. Place individual leaves or chopped leaves in freezer bags. Flatten the bags to remove air.
Dill, sage, rosemary, and thyme also freeze well on the stalks, which you can add frozen to cooking pots and remove before serving.
ICE CUBE METHOD: You can also puree herbs with a small amount of water and freeze the paste in small zippered freezer bags, then break off frozen pieces as you need them. Combine herbs that are good culinary companions, such as sage and thyme, mix with a little olive oil, and seal the paste in freezer bags. Or pour the mixture into ice cube trays; once frozen, remove and store in freezer bags and thaw individual cubes as needed.
MAKE AND FREEZE PESTO:
Pick that basil and prepare pesto and freeze it at we noted in our Making Pesto Recipe Don’t forget to try freezing it in ice cube trays for easy thawing.
3. To Oven-Dry:
Place herb leaves or seeds on a cookie sheet one inch deep or less.
Put herbs in an open oven on low heat – less than 180 degrees F – for 2-4 hours. To see if the herbs are dry, check if leaves crumble easily. Oven-dried herbs will cook a little, removing some of the potency and flavor, so you may need to use a little more of them in cooking.
HOW TO STORE DRIED HERBS:
With both methods, you’ll know the herbs are dry when leaves crumble easily. Store in labeled, dated airtight containers like canning jars, plastic storage containers or freezer storage bags. For best flavor, keep the leaves whole until you are ready to use them.
Simply place them out on a paper towel or I used old coffee filters and they will dry out in a few days. You can grind them and place in a jar or I just put take them off the stems and will grind them when I need them. Or just rub them between my fingers to reduce their size. I have recently had success with sage, mint, rosemary and oregano.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I CHANGE OUT MY DRIED HERBS?
It is also recommended that you change your dried herbs every year or so…Please I have them from when I bought my first herbs on a rotating shelf in 1995. However, I have recently gone through my spice cabinet and thrown out most of those. But do not throw away those good glass jars. Save them for some dried herbs from your garden.