Thanks to fresh herbs for adding an amazing flavor to our regular dishes, it’s pretty impossible not to love them, right? They can turn your ordinary dish into a delicious, spicy one.
But if you cannot preserve herbs well, you must miss them at the end of the gardening season. So, if you want to take the full advantages of herbs throughout the year, you need to know how to preserve herbs properly.
However, you don’t need to look for the proper ways of preserving herbs anymore as we are right here with 5 easy methods you will love. We have compiled here every relevant information you’ll need regarding this topic.
Without beating around the bush, let’s just get to the point.
How to Preserve Herbs
Before you know about the methods, let’s wade through the important steps you should know for Preserve Herbs
The very first step of Preserve Herbs is to harvest them exactly when they are ready. Now, a question is maybe popping up in your mind that “when is the right time to harvest them?”.
Well, your herb’s flavor is at the peak when the flowering is about to start. So, you better harvest before the Preserve Herbs begin to flower or once the flower buds appear.
And, harvesting in the early morning is the best option. Because at this time, the leaves are filled in essential oil (the sun leads them to release into the air). Cut only the healthy Preserve Herbs and remove any dried, sickly, and wilted leaves.
You can use a kitchen knife, pruning shears, or simply a scissor to complete the harvesting process.
Are you done with the harvesting process? If you are, then it’s time to clean all the dirty plants properly. Gently clean the dirty plants, make sure you don’t damage a single leafy part while cleaning.
The best option is to wash the Preserve Herbs using a mist sprayer and let them dry properly. You can pat the herbs using a paper towel and then shake them gently to dry completely.
Choose a Method
Now, it’s time to choose a method that is appropriate for your herb. For example, if you are going to preserve low moisture herbs (e.g rosemary, marjoram, dill, or oregano), the air-drying method is what you should choose.
On the other hand, if you want to preserve herbs that contain more moisture (e.g mint, basil, or chives), it’s better to dry them in an oven or a dehydrator.
Methods 5 to Preserve Herbs
Now, it’s time to enter into the heart of our discussion. Let’s see what’s there for you.
Method 1: Air-Drying
Air drying is one of the simplest methods for preserving herbs. Once you are done with both the harvesting and cleaning process, go through the steps below for air-drying your herbs.
- Firstly, gather some of the brunches (around 5-10) together. Use a rubber band or simply a string to tie the branches. Keep the bundles small so that they can dry fast.
- Now, grab a paper bag and put the bundles (stem-side up) in it. To close the end of the paper bag, tie carefully the end and make sure you don’t crush the herbs.
- Make some holes in the paper bag in order to make sure of proper ventilation.
- Now, select a warm and well-ventilated room where you’ll hang those paper bags by the stem end.
This is all about air-drying the herbs, they are ready to store.
Method 2: Oven-Drying
Although air-drying is more preferable as it doesn’t require any energy, sometimes, oven-drying is an easier and faster option to choose. Also, there are times in damp climates when air-drying seems a bit difficult.
For these, you may need to use an oven for drying your herbs. Here are the steps you should follow to oven-dry your herbs.
- Set the lowest temperature of your oven (it’s around 170 degrees Fahrenheit). This is because a high temperature may cook your herbs.
- Get a paper towel or a cookie sheet, then spread the herbs flat on the towel in one layer.
- Place it into the oven for 2-3 hours.
- Check the leaves several times and rearrange to make sure of even drying.
- After 2-3 hours, allow the herbs to cool and then put them into a container for storing.
Method 3: Freezing
If you are going to preserve fleshy herbs (e.g cilantro, dill, basil, parsley), freezing is the best option. However, there are several methods to freeze herbs. Let’s get to know about them in detail.
The first one we are going to talk about is a simple method that is a great option only if you want to preserve the plants for a few months. All you need to do is to get a cookie sheet (make sure it’s dry) and spread the herbs on it. Now, put it in a freezer for one night. Check if the herbs are frozen. If they are, put them into a ziplock.
Another way is good if you want to preserve and use the herbs for a longer time. To do so, you will need ice cube trays. Chop the herbs and keep them on the trays. Try to keep each cube half-filled with the chopped herbs. Now, top up with fresh water and then freeze it.
So, how should you use the herbs as ice cubes? Well, get the cubes out of your freezer before using them and let the water evaporate. It’s also okay to directly use the ice cubes in your cooking. The extra water in the herbs will not affect your recipe, no problem.
Method 4: Herbal Butter
Preserving plants in butter! Sounds crazy? Well, maybe it does but this process is really simple and you’ll find it fun. To make herbal butter, follow the steps below.
- Take the herbs and butter in a stand mixer.
- Turn the mixer on and mix it all together.
- Once you are done with the blending process, you can shape it as you want.
- Now, you can put it in the freezer and use it later.
So, this was all about preserving herbs in butter. Try it now if you want an easy way that saves your time as well.
Method 5: Herb Oil
Herb oil is another way you can preserve herbs and use them differently whenever you want. The very first thing you have to do is to dehydrate the herbs completely before adding oil to them.
Otherwise, the leftover water in the herbs may mix with the oil. It may lead the oil to go rancid over time. Once you make sure that the herbs are fully dried out, mix half a cup of herbs with two cups of oil.
Now, seal the bottle with its cork and place it in the refrigerator. You can use any time this herb-flavored oil to your salad or other dishes.
Herbs are undoubtedly a great addition to the taste of your food. Preserving herbs will ensure you get tasty food throughout the year. At the end of the article, we hope that you are no longer confused about how to preserve herbs.
Choose a method from the five, wisely. And, go through every step carefully and always store them in a dark, dry, and cold area. Happy preservation!