I love my fresh herbs, I use almost daily for a added flavour to something or another. There is nothing better then a pretty garnish on top of a beautiful dish with the added value of some fresh flavour.
In the summer months I grow plenty of my own herbs that I can pick off all summer and use when I need. But in the cooler months I either have to buy fresh or use dry, either way is okay with me. But, everything is better when it is home grown and fresh. So I be sure to grow more then we will use through out the summer and preserve it as it becomes ready.
The cost of buying a small batch of herbs from the grocery store is more expensive then it is for a pack of seeds to grow a lot of plants. So it only makes sense for me to do this. Plus, I use a lot of herbs when cooking so the more the merrier for me!
Since dry herbs are so readily available at any time of year, and some fresh herbs are a bit harder to come by, or they look awful and I don’t want to buy them – I chose to preserve mine fresh (or as close to fresh you can get) rather then drying it. However I do use each of the methods listed below this way I have a wide range of herbs to chose from.
When doing these methods feel free to mix your favourite herbs together as you wish. This way when you are ready for them, all you have to do is pick and toss into your dish. Be sure to label each container, jar or freezer bag as you go!!
These freezer methods keep you herbs fresh for 12 months or longer!
This is done by freezing the herbs in water, so that when you want to use later on you just have to pull the container out of the freezer and take what is needed. My preferred method for this is ice cube trays, they are the perfect size for about 1-2 tablespoons of cut herbs depending on the size of your ice cube tray.
This can be done with any kind of herbs you want to preserve. Wash and chop your herb of choice and add to ice cube tray, ideally you should pack right below where the top of the water will be. There are other methods out there that you only fill half way with water, wait a few hours and top up the water, then continue to freeze. I find that this takes more time and is really not necessary. In the end you end up with frozen cubes of herbs. Any herbs that stick out may turn slightly brown, but they can simply be removed if this is the case. I don’t often get any brown leaves as they are sealed in a container, but it does happen.
It is worth noting that this is not going to give the exact same effect when they are defrosted as using fresh herbs, but they will maintain their fresh flavour and colour. They will not however look as pretty for a garnish, but are ideal for adding to dishes while cooking. Not that you can not use them as a garnish – if you let them defrost and pat dry, you may get away with the fresh look!
Another method to freezing fresh herbs is to freeze them in oil and not water. Complete the same steps you would with the water method above except add oil. You can use your oil of choice. I prefer olive oil only because it does add flavour and adds a nice touch to any dish when cooking. You will still get the same effect as you would with freezing with water, but if you are planning on adding to a dish that does not require oil, this is not a good option which is why I mainly stick with using plain water as it is more versatile in the fact you can always add oil not take away.
Freeze Dry Method
If you would like to have dried fresh herbs with out hanging them or waiting for them to dry. You can have freeze dried herbs in under an hour. Once your herbs are washed and dried, lay them flat on a baking sheet or a flat surface, place into the freezer and wait about 15-20 minutes until they are frozen. Be sure not to over freeze as they will get freezer burnt very quickly being out in the open. Once they are frozen, remove from freezer – chop to you desired liking, and put into a tightly sealed jar or container to store in the cupboard. You can also chop before you freeze if you prefer, this will take less time to freeze. Its that easy. If you choose to you can remove from the baking sheet and place into a plastic freezer bag and put back into the freezer and have frozen dried herbs that will last for years if sealed properly.
You can also, wash and dry your herbs – place into a freezer bag and freeze. When it comes time to use them, you can take a pair of kitchen shears and cut away what you need, and place the rest back into the freezer, ensuring it is sealed and air tight.
How to Keep Fresh Herbs Fresh in Your Fridge
Whether you purchased your favourite herb from the grocery store or your grew it, putting it into your fridge and going to get it for a delicious dish you are preparing only to find it has gone bad and can not be used is very disappointing!
But did you know that the proper way to store herbs in the fridge is not leaving them in the plastic bag you brought them home in. Trim off the bottom of the stems and place into a mason jar or a tall glass, place the herbs into the jar with the tips of the stems touching the water. Be sure to remove any brown leaves and be sure not to let the leaves touch the water. Replace the water every couple of days to keep it fresh. If you see any discoloured leaves or stems, simply remove and discard.
Depending on the herb they will last up to 3 weeks or longer in the fridge this way, and will maintain their freshness! If you are using a more delicate herb such as parsley or cilantro be sure to cover with plastic wrap or a clear bag slightly placed over top.
If you are storing a “woody” herb such as rosemary, thyme, sage, or oregano simply wrap/roll the herbs in a slightly damp paper towel and place in your fridge. Ensure the towel stays damp and does not dry out.
There you have it – a few simple ways to store or preserve your fresh herbs!