Three easy ways to preserve fresh herbs. Watch the video and read the tips below. Check out the Home and Garden for Mere Mortals channel for more tips!
Drying herbs is probably the easiest and most hands-off method. Drying works best with strong-flavored herbs like oregano, rosemary, thyme, lavender, tarragon, dill, mint and basil. It’s not so great for delicate-flavored herbs like parsley, cilantro, or savory. To dry herbs without a dehydrator, follow these steps:
- Collect large sprigs of herbs with at least 1/2″ of stem. Rinse and gently pat dry.
- Place the springs, stem end up, into a paper lunch bag. Hold by the stems about 1/2″ below the top of the bag and fold the bag down over the stems. Use a binder clip or paper clip to hold the stems in place and pinch the bag shut.
- Set the bag in a cool place for a week to two weeks until the leaves are brittle and completely dry.
- Crumble the leaves off and into a jar for storage.
Use dried herbs as you would use fresh herbs in recipes, usually measuring about half as much dried herb as fresh. Unlike fresh herbs, dried herbs are best added in at the beginning of a recipe to allow time to reconstitute and release their flavors.
Freezing herbs is a great way to preserve those herbs which lose a lot of their flavors when dried, like parsley, chives, savory, kaffir lime leaves and cilantro. To freeze fresh herbs, follow these steps:
- Rinse herbs and pat dry. Line a baking sheet or plate with parchment or waxed paper
- For leafy herbs: strip leaves from stems. For chives: chop finely.
- Spread prepped herbs out onto the sheet. Freeze several hours or overnight until solid. Meanwhile label some bags or containers
- Working quickly, dump each herb into its labeled container and seal. Freeze.
Use frozen herbs like you would use fresh herbs. Measure for measure, and add them in at the end of a recipe to keep the flavors bright and green.
Making Flavored Butter
Making compound butter is a fantastic way to preserve herbs while also setting yourself up for some major dinner success later on. At minimum you need some butter and some fresh herbs, but feel free to use several herbs together or add garlic, lemon zest or spices to your flavored butter.
- For each 4 tablespoons of soft butter, add up to 4 tablespoons of minced fresh herbs. Mix together thoroughly.
- Lay a rectangle of waxed paper on a work surface. Plop the butter down in the center and wrap the paper around it. Use the paper to help form it into a log. Roll it shut and twist the ends to close.
- Freeze until solid and store in a labeled, freezer-safe bag, pressing the air out as you seal.
To use flavored butter, cut off pats and add to vegetables, meats, potatoes, rice, anything that could benefit from some fresh herbs and butter. See this post on compound butter for flavor combination ideas.