Fresh herbs are abundant in the summer, and it’s wonderful to be able to walk out to the garden and snip off the perfect amount when you’re cooking. Most of us can’t harvest herbs fresh from the garden year-round, but preserving them is pretty easy. Preserving fresh herbs from the garden is also a great way to save money. Buying herbs at the store, especially buying fresh herbs during the winter, is really expensive.
Techniques for preserving fresh herbs
Drying – One of the easiest methods for preserving herbs is by drying them. Herbs can be dried using a food dehydrator, or bunches of herbs can be bundled and hung upside down until they’re dry. Drying herbs works well for basil, rosemary, mint, sage, lavender, oregano and others. Once dried, the herbs can be crushed and added to the spice rack, or simply put into an airtight container and stored in the pantry. Dried herbs like mint and lavender are great to use to make tea too. The downfall of drying herbs is that they tend to lose some of their flavor when they’re dried.
Freezing – It’s super easy to freeze herbs, and they don’t take up much space in the freezer. Plus frozen herbs will retain their flavor better than dried herbs. Parsley, cilantro, chives, rosemary and basil all freeze very well. Herb pieces and whole leaves can be flash frozen on cookie sheets, then stored in a freezer safe container.
Or, they can be chopped up and frozen in ice cube trays. Add a little water to help protect the herbs from freezer burn. Freezing herbs in ice cube trays makes it easy to portion them into ready to use sizes. I add one tablespoon of chopped herbs per ice cube compartment, I find this amount is perfect for most recipes. It doesn’t take long for the herb cubes to freeze. Once they’re frozen, pop them out of the ice cube tray and store them in a container in the freezer. Even if the cubes stick together, they are easy to break apart into pre-measured herb cubes ready for use in all of your cooking.
Pesto – When you think of pesto, you probably think of basil. But there are tons of different recipes for making pesto with other herbs like chives, mint and parsley that are equally delicious. Making pesto is a great way to use up a large fresh herb harvest. I like to make a batch of pesto and then freeze it in ice cube trays too (don’t add water to pesto cubes). I have a few pesto recipes that I love, so I freeze the pesto in the perfect portions for my favorite recipes. When I’m ready to cook, I just pop the pesto out of the freezer and add it to my recipe. Pesto also makes a delicious dip, and is fabulous as a spread on toasted bread with a tomato slice and melted fresh mozzarella cheese on top.
Related Post: Easy garlic scape pesto recipe
Spices – Saving herb seeds to fill up your spice rack is another way to make use of the herbs you grow in your garden. Coriander (the seeds from cilantro), celery, fennel and dill seeds are all common ingredients in many recipes, and found in most spice racks. I collect these seeds from my garden every year to fill up my spice jars, and I’ll never need to buy them for my spice rack again. As an added bonus, I use some of these seeds to start new crops in the spring for free!
Other fun ways to preserve garden fresh herbs
There are many other ways to preserve fresh herbs from your garden. If you love to cook, making your own oils, vinegars, butters and salad dressings are all fantastic ways to get the most from your herb harvests. There are tons of recipes for creative ways to preserve herbs in this way, and it’s fun to experiment.
Preserving herbs is a great way to save money, and allows us to enjoy the taste of garden fresh herbs all year. Don’t just let your herbs die off, preserve them for future use. It’s definitely worth the effort!
More Posts About Growing Herbs
- Planting a spring herb garden for homegrown herbal teas
- Fertilizer for herb gardens and containers
- The cost savings of growing herbs in the garden
- Papalo: get to know this Mexican herb
Share your tips for preserving fresh herbs, or your favorite herb recipes in the comments section below.