Gardens – Fresh herbs can transform mealtimes from the ordinary to the sublime! But while evergreen herbs such as rosemary may be picked throughout winter in many areas, others will need to be cut and stored before the end of the growing season if you want to enjoy their flavors during the colder months.
How to Preserve Herbs from Garden
Read on to discover ways you can store your basil and mint so that you can still enjoy their flavors in the colder months.
Drying is the easiest way to preserve herbs. Gather stems into small, loose bunches and secure the ends together with an elastic band or twine. Hang upside down in a warm, dry, well-ventilated place that’s out of direct sunlight.
For the best results herbs should be fully dried between two to three days.
Another alternative for air drying is to use a microwave. To preserve herbs using a microwave, spread individual leaves out onto paper towel then cover with another layer of paper towel. Microwave for one to three minutes, checking the leaves every 20 seconds and rearranging as necessary to ensure even drying. Allow to cool before storing. Proof if herbs are dry is they feel crunchy when you touch.
Storing Dried Herbs
Herbs can be dried and stored so that they do not lose their flavor. Place the herbs in a labeled jar, and keep them in a cool dry place where they will last for up to a year.
To freeze herbs such as basil, parsley, dill and cilantro, blanch them in boiling water for a couple of seconds before plunging into a bowl of ice-cold water to stop the leaves from cooking further. Pat dry between dish towels then pack the vibrant-green leaves into labelled freezer bags.
Herb Ice Cubes
You can use ice cube trays to create a convenient way to add recipe-ready amounts of frozen herbs at cooking time. To freeze chopped herbs, place herbs in the trays with each cube half filled with water.
Once the cubes are frozen, they can be popped out into a freezer bag to save on space.
You can also blend herbs with oil, then pour the mixture into ice cube trays to freeze. This method also works really well for basic pestos – just make up your pesto, pour into the ice cube trays, freeze, then pop out and pack into freezer bags ready to add to your favorite recipes.
You can preserve herbs by preserving them in butter by mashing the butter together with fresh herbs. Leave a pat of butter at room temperature to soften up, then mash into the butter using the back of a fork.
Pack the butter up into greaseproof paper and twist the ends closed. Herb butter can be kept in the fridge for two weeks or frozen for up to six months.
Vinegars and Oils
If you preserve herbs in oils or butters, it may be safest to refrigerate them and use within two weeks. To preserve herbs for longer than two weeks, drop the pH to below 4.6 by soaking finely shredded herbs in vinegar, then mix in the oil to make salad dressings.