How to Preserve and Store Fresh Herbs
Let me share with you six easy ways to preserve your fresh herbs and help them to maintain their delicious flavor all year round. Whether you grow thyme, rosemary, tarragon, or any combination of all of your favorite herbs, these preservation methods will help you to keep that fresh taste and all of these are my favorite and super easy.
1. Air drying
A number of herbs are suitable for drying. The idea here is to eliminate all the water content from the leaves, flowers, petals, stems or roots. In order to dry leaves, flowers, and other bits that grow above ground level, I have a rack which is simply a piece of muslin stretched over a wooden frame – this allows for good circulation of air. Space the leaves, flowers, petals or stalks on the muslin and put the rack in a dark, warm, dry place until the plant parts are completely desiccated – this can take up to three days.
You can also hang bunches of herbs upside down to dry. Again, good air circulation is vital. The ideal temperature for both methods is 60–80°F. If any herbs turn black, discard them because they will not keep.
2. Oven drying
Make sure your herbs are completely clean and dry, cut them into small pieces and lay them on a baking tray. Pop them in the oven on a very low heat (120–140°F – reduce the temperature by 50°F if you have a fan oven) until they are completely dried out. This will take between two and three hours, depending on the herb and the sizes of the individual plant parts.
3. Freezing in coconut oil or olive oil
I love cooking with coconut and olive oil – it adds such a nice flavor to everything and this lets you add that flavor, along with the flavor of your fresh herbs. You just prepare your herbs and add coconut/olive oil before freezing. Store your frozen cubes in freezer bags for up to a year and just drop them into your dishes while preparing.
4. Freezing in freezer proof containers
If you prefer to just drop herbs into your dishes without any added oils, you can simply cut them up and put them into plastic freezer bags – make sure that your bags are freezer proof.
5. Freezing with salt
You can preserve so many herbs with salt and this method takes less time than most others. You don’t even need any fancy salt – just plain old table salt and a jar or tightly sealed container to store your herbs in when you’re finished. The salt helps to dry them out, it is also a powerful antibacterial substance, that inhibits the growth and multiplication of bacteria.
6. Making a fresh herb paste
I love using herb paste in my cooking process. You just need a food processor to turn your herbs (along with some olive oil or any other oil you prefer) into a paste that you can store in the fridge for up to two weeks or in the freezer for months. Perfect for soups!
Storing dried herbs
Once you have dried your herbs, the last thing you want is for them to reabsorb any moisture so you need to find containers which will exclude as much air as possible without encouraging any humidity.
By far the best type of container is a dark glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Dark glass reduces the amount of light reaching the herbs and therefore helps to prevent bleaching and oxidation. This way your herbs will keep longer. If you can’t get hold of jars with dark glass, use clear ones, but be sure to keep them in a dark cupboard away from sunlight. Use jars that are just big enough for the volume of herbs you are storing – too much ‘air space’ will encourage deterioration.
Once you have put your herbs into the jars, be sure to add a label showing exactly what the herb is and the date you picked it.
Your dried herbs should last up to a year, but if mould forms or if they show any other signs of spoiling you should discard them immediately.
Do you preserve your fresh herbs using any of these methods or do you have your own? Let me know down in comments!
Have a wonderful day!