One of the best parts of summer is being able to use home-grown ingredients fresh from our backyard gardens. By this time we’re guessing you’ve got a bit of a surplus of garden veggies and herbs you’re trying to use up or figure out how to store for the coming seasons. Fortunately, nothing has to go to waste – herbs are easy to save and use for months to come!
Sturdy herbs like rosemary, sage, thyme and bay take to freezing very easily. Cut and cleaned pieces can be left on the stem, placed in freezer bags and frozen directly. If you prefer to save space, freeze the herbs on the stem overnight then remove the leaves and put them back in the freezer. Chives can also be chopped, bagged and frozen.
Delicate herbs like basil, dill, parsley and cilantro shouldn’t be frozen directly. They tend to turn black and mushy if frozen on their own. The best way to freeze them is to do so with a bit of oil. After cleaning, large pieces of the leaves can be placed in ice cube tray wells and covered in olive oil and placed in the freezer. Once frozen, the cubes can be removed and stored in a freezer bag. When you’re ready to use them they can easily be thrown into a skillet or soup pot!
If you’re not keen on using as much oil, you can puree herbs in a food processor with just enough olive oil to coat and form a thick paste. You can then spread the mixture onto a wax paper lined tray, score with a knife and freeze. Scoring helps break the frozen sheet into smaller pieces once it’s solid. The convenient portion-sized pieces can then be stored in freezer bags.
Herbs can be hung to dry in a warm dark place in the home. Simply tie the ends of a few stems together and hang upside down for 2 – 4 weeks. Be sure to dry the herbs entirely. The leaves should be crumbly. Grid or chop the leaves and store in an airtight glass or metal container and keep in a cool, dark cabinet.
Herbs can also be quick dried in the oven. Just spread them out on a cookie sheet and warm in a 180◦ oven with the door open slightly for 1 – 2 hours.
An awesome source for all you could ever want to know about herbs is The Herbal Academy. Check out their website here: https://theherbalacademy.com/.