Herbs are hitting their peak for best harvest. Harvesting is best done mid to late morning after the dew has dried but the hot sun will not wilt cuttings.
While you can pick fresh from the garden and use in that night’s dinner; you will typically have way more herbs than you need for one meal. You have a few different options for preserving your freshly grown herbs: drying, dehydrating, or freezing
- most known method
- sometimes can cause herbs with more moisture like mint or chives to lose a little of their flavor
Drying can be accomplished in several ways.
- Air drying is best done for herbs with more sturdy stems such as rosemary, thyme, lavender, sage, & parsley. Tie the stems together in a small bunch and hang upside down in a dry room that has good circulation. Keep bundles away from moisture prone areas such as basements, stoves, sinks, or dishwashers. Herbs should be dry in around 1-2 weeks if placed correctly. You will know they are ready when the leaves easily crumble.
- You can also air dry herbs like basil, mint, & oregano by placing them in a simple brown paper bag with the stems sticking out. Tie the bag around the stems and create small holes in the sides of the bag for air circulation. Herbs should be dry in around 1-2 weeks if placed correctly. You will know they are ready when the leaves easily crumble.
- If you have a dehydrator, you can place herbs in a single layer on your dehydrating trays and cook on the lowest temperature setting for around 2-4 hours.
- You can also dehydrate herbs in your oven. Leave the door slightly ajar and cook for 1-2 hours at the lowest temperature. Make sure to use a silicone mat or muslin cloth on your tray to make removing the herbs easy.
Crumble and store in glass, air tight jars and store for around 3 months in a dark and dry cabinet or pantry or for up to one year in the refrigerator.
NOTE: We highly recommend popping dried herbs in the freezer at 0 degrees F for 2-3 days to ensure any possible insects or insect eggs are destroyed. If you use a heat dehydrator, this is not necessary.
- retains flavor & nutrients well
- can be not as pretty for topping/garnishing
Freezing can be done in several different ways –
- Herbs with firm textures such as rosemary, thyme, bay laurel, sage and chives can be snipped at the stem base and frozen. Spread them out in a single layer on a tray and place in the freezer. This will help prevent clumping. After they have frozen, you can transfer a piece or stem at a time into freezer bags or airtight containers.
- Some herbs are more tender like basil, mint, & parsley can be frozen into ice cube trays with water. Just fill ice cube tray slots with chopped (or whole leaf if desired) herbs, pour water on top, and freeze. Once frozen – you can store in ziploc bags in the freezer and pull out as needed.
- You can substitute oil for water in the above method. Try chopping basil & garlic and freezing in oil for frozen pesto cubes!
- Herbs are best when used within 1 year from freezing.
Herbs can be very simple to grow and you will save money and have fresher herbs on hand by growing, harvesting, and storing your own! Give it a try today 🙂