Three Ways to Preserve Herbs
Short Term Storage - Fridge:
Cilantro, Dill, Mint and Parsley:
Snip the ends of the stems off. (Wait to rinse it until ready to use it.) Fill a mason jar or glass about ¼ full of water then place the freshly cut stems in the glass. If you are not intending to use them within a day or so, also place a plastic Ziploc bag loosely over the herbs. I find using the bags with the slider is best. Slide it closed snuggly up to the jar. Change the water every few days. Alternatively, use a Ziploc bag and secure with a rubber band.
Alternative to the jar/glass method – use the plastic quart size deli containers with lids!
Use the same method as above, except keep basil at room temperature on the counter. The refrigerator is too cold and tends to turn the leaves black. Also keep the basil out of direct sunlight and it should last about a week.
Chives, Oregano, Rosemary, Sage and Thyme
Remove them from the packaging, rinse them in cold tap water, shake off all excess water. Then roll up the herbs in a paper towel and place in a large Ziploc bag. Squeeze out the air and seal.
Long Term Storage - Freezing:
Herbs that have been frozen cannot be used in exactly the same ways as fresh herbs. However, they are perfect in your winter soups, stews and sauces…. or cocktails!
General rules for freezing herbs:
Puree the herb in a food processor. Using an ice cube tray, fill in each section ½ - ¾ full of herbs and top with oil, such as olive or canola. You may also fill with water, depending on what recipes you intend to use them in or even chicken stock. (for example – thyme used in chicken soup)
1 cube ≈ 1 Tablespoon
Once frozen, remove the cubes and store them in freezer bags until ready to use. Remember to label your bags!
Mint for cocktails
Place chopped mint, lime zest and lime juice in ice cube trays. Freeze.
To make your cocktail:
One shot of rum, then add sparkling water and the mint ice cubes.
Long Term Storage – Drying:
Quick Way – A little flavor is sacrificed with this method, but if you do not have the space to hang them, this way will still preserve your herbs.
Place the herbs in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. (I do not recommend doing more than one variety at a time. The different types of herbs will dry at different rates.)
Bake 2 - 4 hours at 180˚ F. They are done when easily crumbled. Store them in an airtight container, no more than 1 year.
Slow Way – Tie the herbs by the stems with twine or a twist tie. Hang them upside down in a warm, ventilated room. If you are concerned about dust, you can tie them and then place them in a brown paper bag securing the end of the bag closed and poke a few holes to allow the air to circulate. The drying process takes about a week.
**Gift Idea – wrapping your dried herbs from your garden in a cute mason jar would make a lovely hostess gift.