Adding fresh herbs to your meal is the best way to enhance the flavor. Since they are ridiculously pricey, many more people are going down the route of growing them in their garden. Herbs are easy to grow, so anyone can do it. Now, once you bought the cut little pots, soil, and seeds to grow your herbs, you will need to water them and take care of them, so they sprout beautiful, green, and fresh blooms.
But your work doesn’t end there. You will need to clip the herbs so you can enjoy the harvest all year long. If you have a lot of harvests, you must be wondering how to preserve fresh herbs? There are many different techniques you can adopt to preserve fresh herbs.
Table of Contents
Preserve fresh herbs
How To Preserve Fresh Herbs The Three Most Common Ways:
Instead of letting huge amounts of fresh herbs go to waste, you can use the three simple ways to preserve them.
Air drying works wonderfully for herbs such as thyme, sage, oregano, and marjoram. Before you prepare the drying procedure, remove any dirt, and get rid of withered leaves from the herbs. Gently wash the herbs and ensure you dry them thoroughly to avoid mildew. Using a rubber band or twine, secure the herbs by bunching them together at the stems. Hang them upside down in a well-ventilated, dry, and warm place. Make sure your herbs are away from the sunlight.
If there is no dark spot in your home or if you are concerned about the dust, then you can cover the fresh herbs with a bag. However, make sure there is room for the air to circulate. Leave the herbs to dry until you see the leaves crumble.
It will take anywhere between 1 to 4 weeks. After they are sufficiently dried, store them in an airtight container, and they will last you up to a year.
This is another common method used by many people to preserve fresh herbs. This method is a lot faster than air drying and is perfect for people who live in humid environments and can’t use the above method. Take a baking sheet, line it with parchment paper, and spread the herbs on it. Put it in the oven at 150 degrees. Leave the oven door slightly open.
Check on your herbs frequently and remove them from the oven when the texture becomes crumbly. It may take anywhere between 1 to 4 hours. Store in an air-tight container. The herbs will last you a year.
Freezing is the easiest way to preserve fresh herbs. It doesn’t take a lot of effort. All you need to do is simply clip the fresh herbs from your garden, chop them up and place them into freezer bags. Make sure the bags are freezer proof as you don’t want freezer burns or ice crystals on the herbs. This method can preserve herbs for up to 6 to 8 months.
How To Preserve Fresh Herbs?
Apart from the three most common ways to preserve fresh herbs, below are the most interesting techniques that will help you retain the flavor of the herbs from your garden. Whether you grow tarragon, thyme, rosemary, or a combination of all the different herbs, the preservations techniques will ensure the flavor and fresh taste is maintained.
Fresh Herbs with Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is the ultimate base for freezing your fresh herbs in. It keeps the taste fresh for months. All you need is good quality, preferably organic coconut oil, freshly clipped herbs, and an ice cube. You can buy a cheap $1 plastic ice cube from a dollar store and use it to preserve your herbs.
Depending on the recipe, you can chuck the coconut herb ice cubes in your pot or pan to enjoy the flavor and the health benefits of both the coconut oil and the herbs.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
- Small cup
- Small pan
- Kitchen scissors
- Ziplock bags
- Ice cube trays
- Any type of herb or herbs growing in your garden
- Coconut oil
- Go to your herb garden early in the morning and clip a bunch of fresh herbs to make a bouquet of fresh green blooms and then start the cleaning process.
- Strip the herbs from the stems
- Clean the selected herbs by removing any damaged or withered leaves and then put them aside.
- Take a small cup, kitchen scissors, and start chopping the herbs until they look finely chopped. After you are done chopping the herbs, you can mix and match. Reserve some herbs for solo preservation.
- Mixing rosemary, basil, and oregano is a great way to have Italian herbs and can be used in several pasta dishes.
- Dill reserved by it can be used in fish or other herby dishes.
- Put the herbs in the cup aside and start preparing the oil.
- Use one tablespoon of oil for each cube in the ice tray.
- So if you have a 12 cube ice tray, you will use 12 tablespoons of coconut oil.
- Melt the oil in the pan on the stovetop.
- Pour the oil into each cube of the ice tray and then add a tablespoon of herbs in it.
- Put the ice cube tray in the freezer for 2 hours or until solid.
- Once the cubes are frozen, take them out and store them in the zip lock freezer bags.
These perfectly preserved fresh herbs are ready to be thrown into your meals for delicious and robust flavors. If you don’t have a fresh herb garden, you can use store-bought ones and preserve them in coconut oil. However, nothing beats the fresh herbs from your very own herb garden. It is the fruits of your labor, the love, and effort you have put into growing the herbs that make it look and taste better than your local grocery store herbs.
This way of preserving herbs is unconventional, but it does the job. It is fairly quick and easy and can last you months. All you need is a food processor and olive oil to turn your herbs into a paste that can be stored in the freezer for months and in the fridge for two weeks. You can also combine different herbs to create a unique flavor profile to add to your meals.
To make a herbs paste, it is best to avoid using herbs with tough leaves such as rosemary or bay. Use herbs with softer leaves such as parsley or basil. Here is a list of herbs you can use to make a paste:
- A bunch of herbs of your choice
- A little bit of olive oil
- Remove the herb leaves from the stems
- Put the herbs in the food processor and pulse them until they are finely chopped.
- Continue pulsing them and gradually add the olive oil while the herbs are being processed.
- Stop as soon as you get a smooth paste-like texture.
- Once you have your desired consistency, store them in ice cubes.
- If you don’t have spare ice cubes, then spread the paste on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and pop it into the freezer. Don’t forget to score the paste into square shapes before placing the sheet into the freezer, so it is easy to break apart after it is frozen.
- Put the frozen squares into a zip lock freezer bag and label them or put them in airtight containers.
Freezing Herbs in Olive Oil
This is similar to freezing herbs in coconut oil. It will keep the herbs tasting fresh for many months. Olive oil adds a great flavor to the fresh herbs. All you need to do is prepare the herbs, add some oil, and then freeze them in ice cube trays. The olive oil herb cubes will last you for a year, and you can drop them into your meals while cooking.
- Remove the herbs from the stems; roughly chop them into small pieces.
- Put them in the ice cube trays and then fill each cube section with extra virgin olive oil.
- Cover the ice cube trays with plastic wrap and then put the ice tray in the freezer.
- Freeze for up to 8 hours or until solid.
- Remove the ice cubes from the tray and put them into zip lock bags.
- You can also put the ice cubes in an airtight container.
Preserving Fresh Herbs with Salt
You can preserve fresh herbs using salt, and this method isn’t time-consuming. You can use the usual table salt. You don’t need to spend money on any other fancy salt. The salt dehydrates the herbs and preserves it. When using herbs preserved with salt, avoid using too much salt in your dishes. You can use this way to combine different types of herbs to make a special blend.
For this particular method, you can use any type of herb you prefer, such as :
- Or a mixture of different herbs
- Use the freshest herbs possible. Go to your herb garden and clip fresh herbs.
- Wash and dry the herbs thoroughly. Use a salad spinner if you have one; otherwise, use a kitchen towel to dab off the water.
- Separate the herbs from the stems and then chop them off roughly with a sharp knife.
- If you are using a large amount, then use a food processor to make things easy for yourself. However, don’t over-process the herbs, or they will turn into a paste.
- Use a measuring cup to scoop out the herbs.
- It is important to remember 4 to 1 ratio. You will need 4 parts herbs and 1 part salt( don’t use iodized salt) for this method. For instance, if you have 4 tablespoons of parsley, then use 1 tablespoon of salt.
- Combine the salt and herbs in a clean and dry container and stir. Make sure to use an air-tight container, and your herbs should last you for a few months.
How to Preserve Fresh Herbs with Fermentation
Fermenting your herbs in brine requires salt, but not just any salt, specifically sea salt or Himalayan salt. This method is also used to brine pickles. If you have experience with making dill pickles, then this method should be easy for you.
Fermentation and brining have been used for centuries to preserve food. It will keep the herbs fresh for months, and your herbs will taste fresh. You must allow your herbs to ferment for a couple of days before storing them at room temperature for a few weeks or in a dark and cool place for 6 months.
There are two ways of using the fermentation method.
- 1 cup of fresh whole herb leaves. You can use any herbs of your choice
- 1 cup of water, filtered (Don’t use fluoridated or chlorinated water)
- 1 teaspoon of Himalayan salt or sea salt
- Separate the herbs from the stems. Wash and dry them thoroughly. A salad spinner is a great tool to use for your salad or herb leaves. Pack a mason jar with the herb leaves, leaving a bit of room at the top.
- Combine the water together.
- Pour the brine mixture into the herbs jar.
- Put a fermentation weight on top of the jar to ensure the herbs stay in the brine.
- Place the lid on the jar and then secure it with a jar ring.
- Put the jar on a dish in case the mixture overflows.
- Ferment for 6 to 10 days or until the brine is tangy and stops bubbling.
- Remove the weight and the fermentation lid and then put the storage lid.
- This can be preserved for many months if left unopened and a couple of weeks at room temperature when opened. You can also store it for 6 months in a root cellar or refrigerator.
This method gives the herbs an intense flavor compared to the brined herbs. You can try both methods to determine which one you like the most.
- ½ teaspoon of sea salt
- 2 to 3 bunches of freshly clipped herbs
- Separate the herbs from the stems.
- Wash and thoroughly drain the herbs. Use a salad spinner to make the process of washing and drying fast and easy.
- Finely chop the herbs with a sharp knife.
- Place the herbs in a bowl and then add sea salt.
- Use a pounder press to bruise the herbs enough, so they release the juices.
- Fill ½ cup jars with the herbs
- Pack them into the jars and then check the level of brine.
- If the brine hasn’t reached up to a level of the herbs, add salt brine, which can be made using 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 cup of water.
- Use a fermentation weight to weigh down the herbs in the jar and then cover with a fermentation lock.
- Ferment for 6 to 10 days or until the herbs taste tangy.
- Take off the fermentation lid and weight and replace it with a storage lid.
- This herb paste will be preserved for many weeks at room temperature and a couple of months in a root cellar. It will last up to 6 months in the freezer.
Home Made Herb Vinegars
Homemade herb vinegars are a perfect way to store the herbs and add extra flavor to your meals. Herb vinegars are very easy to make. It is important to keep in mind that you have to allow the herbs to sit in the vinegar solution for a few days before they can be used in cooking or meals. You can store the herb vinegars for 6 months at room temperature.
Flavored herb vinegars add a distinctive taste to the recipes. It is a lot less costly to make them using fresh herbs from your garden rather than buying them from the market.
- ½ cup packed fresh herbs such as dill, oregano, mint, tarragon, rosemary, basil, and chives.
- 2 cups of white vinegar or white wine vinegar
- In a tightly covered bottle or glass jar, add vinegar and leaves and shake them.
- Place the jar in a cool and dry place for up to 10 days.
- Strain the vinegar and discard the herbs.
- Place 1 sprig of a fresh herb of your choice in the glass jar to help you identify the flavor
- When stored and covered, it can last up to 6 months at room temperature
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Hopefully, the techniques discussed help you answer the question of how to preserve fresh herbs from the garden. You can test different methods and opt for what is more convenient for you.
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