Maybe you've been harvesting and gathering herbs from your garden all year. Or perhaps you did some foraging or have someone at the local Farmer's Market selling herbs. People are sometimes reluctant to get fresh herbs because they're not quite sure the best way to preserve the harvest. Today we're going to share tips for drying and preserving herbs.
How to Preserve, Dry, and Store Herbs
Important- Make sure to handle your herbs with clean, dry hands no matter what method you choose to use.
Drying herbs is the most common way to preserve herbs. You have a few options for how to go about this. Most herbs take about a week or two to dry. Remember, dried herbs will loose a bit of their flavor.
- Hang herbs in a bundle as pictured above. Keep your bundles small (about 1 inch diameter) and make sure they are bug-free. Keep them somewhere dry and let time and nature do the work. Some people like to wrap their bundles in a paper bag or muslin to keep off the dust and catch any dropped leaves.
- Dry herbs on a rack or tray. Spread them out in a flat layer and place them somewhere dry and clean.
After the herbs have been dried you can crumble them into a spice jar or store in your favorite storage container. Keep them somewhere dark and dry. You'll know if they've lost their potency by changes in the color, smell, and taste.
Dehydrating herbs can be done with a home dehydrator. Some ovens can also go low enough to dehydrate. (or make a solar oven if you're somewhere sunny!) You need to make sure you place the herbs on something mesh so they don't fall through the cracks on your oven shelves. This method takes 2-4 hours on the lowest possible setting.
Freezing herbs is fast and easy. A common method involves mixing them with oil or water and placing into ice cube trays. It works best if they are very finely chopped or even lightly blended. You can them pop out a cube and throw it into your recipe or a cup for some tea. Some herbs can be placed on a tray and flash frozen but the texture is a bit off. Or use your herbs in your favorite recipes and freeze the meal for a later date.
Infused Oil or Vinegar are a bit more time consuming but are quite a treat. We have a blog post all about making infused oil here. Vinegar instructions can be found online.
Grow from scraps (or cuttings)- Lots of herbs can be grown in containers indoors. This will allow you to keep your fresh herbs at home throughout the winter. Place the stems in water for a while (changing it out daily) until roots grow. You can then plant them in a pot to keep growing.
Note- Most herbs can be preserved with any of these methods. However the moisture content and natural oils in each herb should also be considered.
Want more tips for preserving the harvest? Check out our Preserving the Harvest Pinterest board.