Preserving Herbs: How to Preserve & Store Your Homegrown Herb Cuttings

[Music] Fresh herbs transform mealtimes from the
ordinary to the sublime, but while many evergreen herbs such as rosemary may be picked throughout the winter in many areas others need to be cut and stored before
the end of the growing season if we’re to enjoy their flavors during the colder
months. In this video we’ll look at some clever but simple ways to do just that. Drying is the easiest way to preserve
herbs. Gather stems into small loose bunches, secure the ends together with an elastic band or twine then hang upside down in a warm, dry, well-ventilated place that’s out of direct sunlight. Herbs with smaller leaves such as thyme can be laid out on newspaper or on a rack to dry. For best results herbs should be fully dried within
2-3 days. A speedier alternative to air drying is to use a microwave. This method is also useful in damp climates where air drying can prove difficult
unless you have a dehydrator. Spread individual leaves out onto paper towel,
then cover with another layer of paper towel Place in the microwave for 1-3
minutes, checking the leaves every 20 seconds and rearranging as necessary to
ensure even drying. Allow to cool before storing. Herbs are dry when they are
crunchy to the touch. Store dried leaves whole to retain their
flavor. Place them into airtight jars labeled with the name of the herb and the date. Store them in a cool dry place, where they should keep for up to a year. Fleshy herbs such as basil, parsley, dill and cilantro (coriander) lend themselves to freezing. Blanch them in boiling water for a couple of seconds before plunging into a bowl of ice cold water to stop the leaves from cooking further. Pat dry between dish towels, then pack the vibrant green leaves into labeled freezer bags. Ice cube trays offer a convenient way to add recipe-ready portions of frozen herbs at cooking time. To freeze, add chopped herbs to the trays so that each cube is about half full. Top up with water then freeze as normal. This is also a great way to
preserve edible flowers such as borage for adding to drinks. Once the cubes are frozen they can be popped
out into freezer bags to save on space. You can also blend herbs with oil then pour the mixture into ice cube trays to freeze in the same way. This method also
works really well for basic pestos. Just make up your pesto, pour into the ice cube
trays, freeze, then pop out and pack into freezer bags ready to zhoosh up your
favorite recipes. A variation on oil herb mixtures is to make
a herb butter. Leave a pat of butter at room temperature to soften up. Chop up your
favorite leafy herbs – I love using tarragon – then mash into the butter using the back of a fork. Pack the butter up into greaseproof paper and twist the
ends closed. Herbs in oils and butters can exclude oxygen, which can increase
the risk of botulism disease. To avoid this, be sure to refrigerate them and use
within 2 weeks or freeze for up to 6 months. An alternative is to lower the pH to below 4.6 by soaking finely shredded herbs in vinegar then mixing in the oil to make salad dressings which will last longer. These ideas offer just a flavor of
what you can do to lock in that summer freshness to enjoy year round. Of course, there are lots of other methods – preserving in sugar, even herbal wines. If you’ve got a favorite method of storing herbs, please do share it by dropping us
a comment below and if you’d like more practical gardening videos, don’t forget to subscribe. [Music]

17 comments

  1. Last year I made a couple varieties of simple syrup using different herbs like mint and lemon balm. I used them to make iced tea. It came out really good.

  2. These are great suggestions. Some herbs work better with one method than another. We've tried all of these except the microwave. They each have their own "best method".

  3. You didn't mention bay.  We have a large bay bush just outside the kitchen. I've left the leaves to air dry but they go very brittle and never seem to have as much flavour as bought bay leaves.  Any suggestions?

  4. Salted herbs are great too! You can chop a variety of herbs and even add some shredded vegetables, like carrots, then pack in a glass jar in layers of salt. Alternatively, mix the salt with the herbs in a bowl then pack in sterile jars. Add a tablespoon to soups and stews but don't add more salt. I live in Quebec and all Quebec grandmothers keep salted herbs in the fridge!

  5. hello, would have never thought to nuke herbs, even though Dr. Greger of nutritionfacts.org recommends this method as a way of preserving nutrients in most vegetables. thank you for this most useful video…really enjoyed it!

  6. It's so refreshing to have someone get right to the point and show us how to do something without all the timeless chatter that makes a video last forever. Thanks for all the great tips. I will definitely use them.

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