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.