Here are a few tips to help extend the life of your herbs!
Freezing is a great way to preserve your bounty! Tender herbs such as chives, basil, dill, & parsley work well with these methods. Use your frozen herbs in the same quantities as you would fresh, but remember, they will not retain their crisp, fresh qualities, and are best used in dishes in which they are cooked.
- Strip the leaves off the stems and spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet.
- Place in freezer.
- When frozen, place them in freezer bags in the amount you are likely to use them. Label & Date.
- Strip the leaves off the stems. Chop as though using fresh, though this is optional, you can use whole leaf.
- Fill an ice cube tray half way full with water. Place 1 Tbsp. herbs in each section of the tray.
- The herbs will probably float, but try to immerse them as much as possible. Place your tray in the freezer.
- When frozen, top up your tray with water and re-freeze.
- Once fully frozen, pop them out and store in a freezer bag. Label & Date.
- The cubes can be used in soups, stews, iced tea, and much more.
- This method can also be used with olive oil in place of water.
Most herbs have very little moisture to begin with, thus dehydrating is usually a quick method of preservation.
- Bundle long stemmed herbs and tie, then hang upside down in a dry, warm room, away from direct sunlight, but with air circulation. If you’d like, wrap cheesecloth, muslin, or a paper bag with several holes around the herbs.
- If you have leaves or tiny sprigs, lay them out on a screen and place in a dry, warm room, away from direct sunlight, but with air circulation. If you don’t have a screen handy, stretch cheesecloth over an old frame, and place herbs on this. This method can take a few hours, to several days.
- This sounds ideal, but most electric ovens are not equipped to dry herbs. The ideal temperature is around 100F, while most modern ovens only go down to about 170F. Even propping the door open, you run the risk of cooking your herbs, rather than drying them, not to mention the energy waste. If you happen to have a gas oven, you would be able to dry just by the warmth of the pilot light. An electric dehydrator is a good option for the home.
Your herbs are dry when they crumble easily, but don’t pulverize them! The leaves still retain their yummy volatile oils. Instead, crumble into your meals as you need them. Store in labeled bags or jars, and check for moisture in 2-3 days. If they were not completely dry before storing and you notice moisture, it’s probably wise to throw them out and try again.