Of course the absolute best way to preserve herbs is to grow them yourself and keep them indoors, that way you can pretty much have fresh ones all year round and only ever pick what you need. However, if you’re like me and not particularly green fingered (though I am improving:-) you will sometimes be caught buying them and no doubt ending up with more than you can use in one go.
As always, start with fresh organic herbs and you will have the best start. Anyone from small homesteaders to frugal housewives can do these simple techniques.
Here are my top tips for preserving them for use next time.
- Dry them yourself. Hang them upside down in a warm dry room until the leaves crumble when touched. Bag up or put in empty (washed and dried) herb jars. They should last around 6-12 months. Store bought dried herbs are pretty expensive, so if you have somewhere you can dry your own, it’s definitely worth doing, and very easy.
- Freeze them. No special equipment or area required. Use an ice cube tray if you have one, for easy results, otherwise snack sized ziplocs will suffice. Wash, dry and chop into small pieces that can be put straight into a casserole (or whatever) when needed. Spoon the chopped herb into the ice tray. Pack quite tightly. Pop in the freezer, remove a cube at a time to use straightaway. Will keep in the freezer for 6 – 12 months.
- Preserve in oil. Reuse a small clean glass jar, fill with fresh, clean chopped herbs. Top up the jar with oil of your choosing. I usually use Olive Oil, but you could use grapeseed, sunflower, whichever oil you prefer. DO NOT put in the fridge, the oil will solidify if you do. Use straight from the jar. Your recipe must allow for an addition of a little oil, for example, a pasta sauce. Most savoury dishes will work well with this. This will keep in the pantry for 3-6 months. For a great range of organic cooking oils check out Thrive Market (link gives discount for first time customers).