written by Maryday Manale
It seems summer went by way too fast and now it’s that time of transitioning from shorts to pants, from sandals to rain boots and tank tops to jackets! If you happen to have a garden of herbs outside, they too will need some preparing! Or, should I say some “preserving!" Luckily there are several ways to preserve that “summer” in your garden from drying herbs, freezing herbs, to making herb butters or herb infused oils.
Preserving herbs is a great way to add flavour to your food. On the plus side- it’s inexpensive and you know the source of your food. Leave the store-bought dried herbs on the shelf! Here are some tips to get you started.
Benefits: Easy and simple way without depleting the herbs of their natural oil and nutrients.
Best Herbs to Dry: Any herbs that don’t have high moisture content including: Oregano, Rosemary, Dill and Thyme.
Air Dry Naturally or Use a dehydrator (if you have one). Microwaves may seem the quick way to dry herbs but it actually reduces the oils in the herbs and its flavour. Drying herbs is meant to be a slow process.
1. Early in the day cut healthy branches from your herb plant, remove diseased leaves, and make sure they are dry ( wet herbs tend to mold easy) shake off any excess soil.
2. Remove the lowest leaves, tie them into a bundle. You can use string or a rubber band. The bundles will shrink as they dry and the rubber band will loosen, so check periodically that the bundle is not slipping.
3. Place them in a paper bag punched with a few holes. *Tip: Always label the bag with the herb you are drying
4. Hang the bag upside down in a dry, airy room. And allow the process to begin.
Check in about two weeks to see how things are progressing. Keep checking weekly until your herbs are dry and ready to store.
1. Store your dried herbs in air tight containers. Zippered plastic bags will do. I like to use small canning jars.
2. be sure to label and date your containers.
3. Dried herbs are best used within a year. As your herbs lose their color, they are also losing their flavor.
Benefits: It's easy to do and quicker than drying and still maintains flavours and nutritious value.
Best Herbs to Freeze: Moisture dense herbs, like Basil, Chives, Mint. However works with most any kind of herb that is available to you!
Wash herbs well & gently pat to dry with a paper towel
Take leaves off the stem and place on a pan
Then place in the Freezer overnight
Once frozen, place them in a Ziploc bag and Label.
Ice Cube Tray Method:
Chop the leaves or keep them whole
Place herbs into the ice cube tray *Tip: Mix n Match your herbs to build flavours
Fill with Olive oil or melted butter halfway and push the herbs down *Tip: As an alternative you can also use water. Using oil or butter helps preserve them longer.
Then place frozen cubes into a freezer bag. Make sure to label your bags. These will keep for several months until they start to look “tired.”