Herbs are abounding in our gardens right now! Many people not only wonder how to use them, but also how to preserve them. Chives, sorrel, thyme, oregano, sage, parsley and mints are just a few of the herbs that are ready to be preserved. It’s so easy to enjoy your herbs year round with these simple preserving techniques.
Drying your herbs can be done in a few ways:
- Using a dehydrator is a simple way to preserve small batches. Dehydrators typically come with instruction booklets with great how to’s.
- Dry your herbs by laying them in a single layer on a baking sheet in a 150 degree oven. The length of time will depend on the herb you’re drying. Keep checking every 15 minutes for “crunchiness.”
- Bunching the herbs with rubber bands and hanging them upside down from drying racks, curtains with clothespins or rafters in the basement or garage. Direct sunlight should be avoided. Parsley is the only herb I steer away from with using this technique because it looses its color!
You can store your dried herbs in airtight glass or plastic containers for six months to a year, although their scent declines the older they get.
Freezing is a fast and easy way of preserving your herbs and seems to help maintain that fresh-picked flavor better than drying. This method works best with mints, chives and parsley.
- We love pesto! I make mine in big batches and freeze 1 cup quantities in plastic containers, baby food jars or jelly jars. Remember to leave an inch head space when freezing to allow for expansion.
- You can also pack any fresh culinary herb in 1/2 cup safflower or canola oil. Use 1/2 pint jelly jars or small plastic containers and freeze leaving 1 inch head space. These are great for basting meat, sauteing veggies or brushing on bread for bruschetta, pizza crust or bread sticks.
So go on out and get those yummy herbs picked and start enjoying them year round.
Now I’m off to the garden!