Wednesday, October 21, 2009

6 Ways to Preserve Herbs

The cold nights are here but some of my herbs are hanging onto life. Soon enough, there will be no fresh herbs from the yard and so just in case you have a few extra herbs to put up for the winter here are six tips to "waste not and want not," at least in the herb department.

1. Dry Obviously you can dry your herbs and this is definitely cheaper than buying them. Rinse herbs and pat dry with a paper towel. Allow them to air dry before you continue. You can continue to dry your herbs on a screen. I actually bought a small cheap screen at Wal-Mart for this purpose. You can also bundle your herbs and tie with a string. Hang upside down and tie a paper bag around the stems and bundle to catch any dried herbs as they fall from the stem. Store in a clean, dry airtight container

2. Freeze your herbs. I freeze a lot of herbs because they maintain a lot of their original fresh flavor when frozen. Now when I need thyme or tarragon, or rosemary for a soup, I don't have to rush to the grocery store and pay an exorbitant amount . Basil leaves don't freeze as well as other herbs but there are other options for your basil. For instance, I grow at least one basil plant in a portable pot so I can bring it indoors once the weather gets frosty.

To freeze: Rinse, pat and allow to air dry. Flash freeze overnight on a cookie sheet and then place in labeled bags and return to freezer.

3. Create Herb Butters. Herbs love to be wrapped in butter and I love to use herb butter to season my steaks or meat or even my biscuits. There are so many different combos. I like to stock up on chive butter for my baked potatoes but I also like a good sage, rosemary and thyme butter.

To create butter. Soften a half stick of butter on a piece of plastic wrap. Chop a tablespoon of herbs and then knead herbs into butter. Reshape into a log, Wrap in plastic wrap, label and freeze. To use: Remove from freezer and slice off portions, or allow to come to room temperature.

4. Make Pesto Just about any herb can be made into a pesto, although I have yet to try thyme. I keep ice cube portions of sage, basil, oregano and spinach pesto in my freezer. Here is my recipe for OREGANO PESTO:

5. Herb Vinegars
Any herb can be added to vinegar. Gourmet flavored vinegars are pricey in the store. Make your own to liven up your recipes or make some for holiday gifts. This recipe for tarragon vinegar can be adapted for any herb or combination of herbs. TARRAGON VINEGAR.
6. Herb Infused Oils Although I have not used this technique for edible oils, I totally intend to try Giada de Laurentiis's ROSEMARY INFUSED OIL. You can also infuse your oil with lavendar buds to create your own lavendar oil. I use mine in my bath water. Place a few fresh sprigs of lavendar in a clean and dry glass container. Cover with olive or almond oil. Make sure your sprigs are completely covered. Place in a dark cool spot and allow to sit for several weeks. Strain oil to remove lavendar and place in a sealed container.


Frieda said...

I love this post! I've learned so much about herbs this year. I took my basil, made pesto and froze it in an ice cube tray. So far, they look good~ Then took my Rosemary and Thyme, washed & dried them and froze them in my FoodSaver bags. Hopefully that will work.
Next year, I'll put my basil in a separate pot to bring indoors ~ that's a great idea.

ValleyWriter said...

We've already had our first frost, so there aren't too many herbs left here, but I'll definitely try these tips with what we do have. Thanks for sharing!

Divina Pe said...

Thanks for all the wonderful info. They're very, very helpful.

Spicie Foodie said...

I love your post! I was just about to research how to preserve my fresh thyme since it's getting pretty cold here and my other plants are starting to die. Thank you so much , very informative and great money saving ideas.

Susan said...

Excellent, just want I was looking for to save herbs...

Andrea@WellnessNotes said...

I LOVE all your tips! I am going to freeze some of my herbs today. And I love the idea of making herb butter and freezing it! Herb butter adds such a nice to touch to a meal, and it's so convenient to have it premade... Again, thanks for a great post!

CaptnRachel aka Tha Pizza Cutta said...

great post. I've done butters, pestos, and frozen herbs before, but I've never dried. thanks for the tips-cheers!

Brie: Le Grand Fromage said...

love this post! i'm always looking for new ways to use herbs before they go bad. thanks!

Jelli Bean said...

Aren't herb butters wonderful? Not only are the incredibly simple to put together, but the extra effort is always appreciated by guests, who think you really went out of your way making dinner.


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