Last Updated on May 20, 2022 by Real Men Sow
Fresh herbs can make your mealtimes more memorable. While evergreen herbs like rosemary can be harvested throughout winter, other varieties will need to be stored and cut before the end. This is to preserve their flavor during the winter months. Here are some simple and clever ways to do this.
How To Dry Herbs Properly
Drying herbs is the best way to preserve them. Make small, loose bundles from the stems and attach the ends with twine or elastic. Hang them upside down in a well-ventilated, warm place, away from direct sunlight. For herbs with smaller leaves like thyme, you can lay them out on newspaper or a rack to dry. To get the best results, herbs should be dried in two to three days.
A microwave is a faster alternative to drying in the air. This is especially useful for damp climates, where air drying can be difficult without a dehydrator. Place individual leaves on a piece of paper towel and cover it with another layer. Put the leaves in the microwave for 1 to 3 minutes. Check the leaves every 20 seconds to make sure they are dry evenly. Let cool completely before you store. When herbs are firm to the touch, they are dried.
Storing Dried Herbs
To preserve their flavor, place them in airtight containers, with the date and the name of each herb. They should be stored in an airtight container for at least one year.
Fleshy herbs like basil, parsley and dill, such as coriander, can be frozen. To stop them from burning, blanch them in boiling water for about a minute. Then, plunge into a bowl filled with ice-cold to cool the leaves. The vibrant-green leaves can be dried between two dish towels, then packed in freezer bags.
Make herb butter, which is a variation on oil-herb combinations. Let the butter cool to soften then chop your leafy herbs. Use a fork to mash the butter. Proceed to put the butter in a greaseproof paper bag and seal the edges. You can keep herb butter in the refrigerator for two weeks, or freeze it for up to six month.
Vinegar and Oils
Butters and oils can make herbs less breathable, increasing the chance of developing botulism. If you don’t want to risk this, make sure they are refrigerated and used within two weeks unless you freeze them. Alternately, you can lower the pH to below 4.6% by soaking the finely chopped herbs in vinegar and then adding the oil to make salad dressings. This will prolong their life.
These are just a few of the many ways you can preserve summer freshness year-round. There are many other options, such as blanching and preserving in sugar.