How to save your Herbs

There are many ways to 'Save' your herbs:

When to harvest your herbs

Drying

Freezing

Pickling

When to harvest your herbs - You MUST harvest the leaves from your herbs often to keep the from go to seed. Take cuttings of your herbs, even if you don't need them or have time to Save them. Put them into your compost bucket.

Mid summer is usually the prime time to harvest your herbs, but you should be harvesting almost weekly.

In late summer or early fall:

  • Annual herbs - pull up by the root (requires one year for their life cycle)

    • Basil

    • Bay Laurel (considered a perennial in warmer zones)

    • Chervil

    • Cilantro/Coriander

    • Dill

    • German Chamomile

    • Marjoram

    • Summer Savory

    • Parsley (lives two years, but is usually grown as an annual for best flavor)

  • Biennial herbs - trim to a third of their size (requires two years for their life cycle)

    • Angelica

    • Caraway

    • Clary

    • Echinacea

    • Fennel

    • Feverfew

    • Ginger horseradish

    • Lemon Balm

    • Lemon Grass

    • Lovage

    • Oregano

    • Roman Chamomile

    • Sorrel

    • Tarragon

    • Watercress

    • Parsley (often treated as an annual for best flavor)

    • Stevia

    • Sage (hardy for longer in zones 4-9)

  • ​Perennial herbs - trim to a third of their size (comes back each year).
    • Cardamom

    • Catnip

    • Chicory

    • Chives

    • Echinacea

    • Fennel

    • Feverfew

    • Ginger Horseradish

    • Lavender

    • Lemon Balm

    • Lemon Grass

    • Lovage

    • Marjoram

    • Mint

    • Oregano

    • Roman Chamomile

    • Rosemary 

    • Sorrel

    • Tarragon

    • Thyme

    • Winter Savory

  • Caraway (blooms in second year)

  • Evergreen Perennial

    • Bay

    • Hyssop

    • Lavender

    • Rosemary

    • Thyme

 
 

Drying is probably the best and least expensive method, for most herbs, for preserving your herb surplus.

Always harvest your herbs before the flowers develop and harvest on a warm and dry morning before the sun starts to stress the herb.

Air-drying works best for low-moisture herbs like: marjoram, oregano, rosemary and dill.

A dehydrator or oven works best for herbs that contain more moisture, like:

basil, chives and mint.

AIR-DRYING

Use only the top and best leaves and stems.

If your herb has large leaves, remove them from the stems. (Like sage or mint.)

If the leaves are small, leave the leaves on the stems until after drying. (Like dill or fennel.)

Four things are needed for good Air-Drying:

  1. Fresh and

  2. Flowing air,

  3. Out of direct sunlight, 

  4. Low humidity is ideal.

If any of these needs are not met, watch for mold.

These herbs do well with air-drying:

  • Tarragon

  • Bay

  • Mint

  • Lemon Balm

  • Lavender

  • Rosemary

  • Thyme

  • And most small-leaved herbs

dehydrator.jpg
 

Freezing herbs is very easy and retains much of the taste, smell, and nutrients in your herbs.

Freezing is best for cooking.

Always use the tops of our herbs where the healthiest leaves are and avoid older or brown leaves.

Method A  Bare Herbs

(hardier herbs like rosemary, dill, thyme, bay, or sage)

  1. Start with your herbs

  2. Wash and towel dry herbs

  3. Remove any old and dead branches and leaves

  4. Spread stems in a single layer on a plate or baking sheet (or paper plates) and place them in the freezer.

  5. Wait at least 2 hours, then transfer to an airtight container.

  6. Mark the bag with the type of herb. Mark on masking tape so you can reuse the bag.

  7. To use - remove needed amount and prepare as needed (whole or chopped)

Method B Freezing in Water

(Tender herbs like mint, parsley, and cilantro)

  1. Start with your herbs

  2. Wash and towel dry herbs

  3. Remove any old and dead branches and leaves

  4. Remove leaves from the stem.

  5. You can chop or leave the leaves whole and place them into containers or ice cube trays (ice cube trays will give you smaller, single-serve amounts of your herbs)

    • Add about one tablespoon of herb per cube ​

  6. Fill each cube halfway and freeze (1 to 3 hours)

  7. Top off each cube with water and freeze.

  8. Once Frozen, transfer the herbs cubes to an airtight container (Ziploc bags work great!)

  9. Mark the bag with the type of herb.

Method C Freezing in Oil - chopped. 

(Tender herbs like Basil, oregano, chives, and thyme) Use when your dish calls for oil. Oil has more fat than water.

  1. Start with your herbs

  2. Wash and towel dry herbs

  3. Remove any old and dead branches and leaves

  4. Remove leaves from the stem.

  5. Add one cup of fresh herbs to 1/4 olive oil in the food processor.

  6. Pulse ingredients to blend.

  7. Transfer to ice cube tray for a single serving (or any small container) 

  8. Once Frozen, transfer the herbs cubes to an airtight container (Ziploc bags work great!)

  9. Mark the bag with the type of herb.

Method D Freezing in Oil - Whole 

(Tender herbs like Basil or bay leaf) Use when your dish calls for oil.

  1. Start with your herbs

  2. Wash and towel dry herbs

  3. Remove any old and dead branches and leaves

  4. Remove leaves from the stem.

  5. Place whole leaves into ice cube trays or other small containers

  6. Add oil to cover

  7. Freeze

  8. Once Frozen, transfer the herbs cubes to an airtight container (Ziploc bags work great!)

  9. Mark the bag with the type of herb.

Method E Rolling Herbs 

(Flat leaf herbs like Italian parsley, sage, or bay leaf) 

  1. Start with your herbs

  2. Wash and towel dry herbs

  3. Remove any old and dead branches and leaves

  4. Remove leaves from the stem.

  5. Fill a Ziploc bag.

  6. Compress leaves into the bottom.

  7. Almost seal, leave part open to allow air out.

  8. Roll the bag.

  9. Finish sealing.

  10. Tie with a rubber band to string.

  11. Freeze.

  12. Mark the bag with the type of herb.

Pickling

Pickling is a great way to extend the life of vegtables.