Best Ways to Preserve Fresh Herbs

Herbs & Spices
Preserve Fresh Herbs

Herbs are irreplaceable in the kitchen. They are used to add special flavor to many meals, so it's not surprising many people want to have their own supply of various herbs to use. The best thing to do it is by growing your own herbs.

Growing your own herbs is fun and relatively easy, so many people have herbs growing in their gardens. There is one major problem, though: herbs are not always easy to preserve for a long time. If you want to use your garden herbs at a later time and not when they're fresh from the garden, it's important to know how to preserve them.

It happens fairy often that your herbs do extremely well and produce a lot. This is a great joy for any gardener, but it also brings a problem on how to preserve all those herbs. Sure, you can use a lot in all of your meals and you can give some to family and friends, but you will still have too much. Chances are that you want to preserve those herbs for a later date.

Should Herbs Be Dried?

Drying herbs is one of the most common ways to preserve them. Many people choose to go this route, but it has numerous disadvantages.

Some of the most common problems with drying herbs include:

  • It's a time-consuming process. It just takes way too long to complete. Remember, ovens destroy the oils in the herbs, so they can't be used for drying.
  • The long drying process opens the opportunity for the air toxins to reach your herbs. Some of the most common ones include: cigarette smoke, hair spray and gas fymes.
  • Herb drying takes a lot of space.
  • Drying herbs is a bad choice for humid areas.
  • There is a very high risk of mold.
  • The last, but certainly not the least: dry herbs simply don't taste as good as the fresh ones.

The problem with lost taste is a big one. You want to preserve herbs in such a way that will not make them tasteless.

Luckily, there is a great alternative to drying, and yes, it will make the herbs taste delicious: freezing! Freezing is a great way to preserve your herbs and use them whenever you want.

Tips for Picking and Freezing Your Herbs

Freezing is indeed a great way to preserve your herbs, but you need to know how to do it correctly and for the best results. The first thing you need to know is how to pick your herbs. Here are some tips that will ensure the best results:

  • It's important to pick the herbs early or mid in the morning. Wait until the dew has dried but before the sun is strong enough. The sun draws and disperses the oils on the herbs, and you don't want that.
  • Make sure to pick the herbs gently and to handle them as little as possible.
  • Never pick herbs when they are damp (for example, after a heavy rain).
  • Pick only as much as you can deal with at the moment. Don't let the herbs pile up in your home.
  • Make sure to always keep different herbs separate from each other.

The next thing you need to know is how to freeze your herbs properly. It's not a complicated process, but it does require some steps.

Generally speaking, you have two options: flash and ice cube freezing. You may also try freezing herbs with oil, but it's too complicated. Plus, freezing with water rather than oil is better when you simply want to take a cube and throw it in the meal. You may not want to add oil to the meal, such as a soup or a stew.

Flash freezing has several steps:

  • Pick the best herbs you can find.
  • Wash the herbs and pat them dry.
  • Lay them on parchment paper on cookie sheet.
  • Freeze the herbs overnight.
  • Place the frozen herbs in freezer bags. Make sure to use a straw to suck out any excess air.

Alternatively, and depending on the herb in question, you may place the herbs in freezer zip lock bags. Freeze for a few days and after this remove the unwanted parts by crunching the bag. Collect the desired parts of the herb and place them in freezer bags. This method works surprisingly well for rosemary and thyme.

Cube freezing is a bit different. To freeze your herbs using the ice cube tray method, follow the instructions:

  • Pick the best herbs you can find.
  • Wash them and pat them dry.
  • Chop them by hand or use food processor.
  • Put the chopped pieces into ice cube trays. Will the trays with water of stock.
  • Freeze the ice cube tray overnight. The ice cubes will form.
  • Place the formed cubes in freezer bags. Use a straw to suck out any excess air.

Using one of the methods described above will make you freeze your herbs successfully and preserve them for a long time.

Photo credit: Yosef Silver

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