Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Storing Herbs for Winter

Dear seasoned folks,

There are many ways to preserve herbs for the winter, all varying in what sort of storage space you have and what kind of flavors you want from the herbs.

As we bring in what for some herbs and climates is the final harvest of the year, we can choose various ways to save them for later months.  Our three basil plants (two sweet, one purple) flourished this year, and I was putting some aside almost every week.

Drying Herbs
Tough or needle-like herbs are the best candidate for drying (rosemary, mint, sage, bay leaves).  Their flavors will still be pronounced and strong!  However, you can dry any herb. 

Herbs can be hung to dry.  Once they are crispy-crumbly dry (about six weeks) they can be bagged, ground into crumbles or powder and stores in jars, or stores whole.

Herbs can also be laid in the fridge to dry.  I lay my basil branches on a top shelf and let them dry for several weeks until they crush at the touch.

Herbs can also be laid on a dehydrator on the lowest setting (usually about 145), or whatever setting is marked for "herbs" and dried until crumbly (12 - 48 hours, depending on your dehydrator!).

Rosemary - I strip my rosemary from the stems and store in jars.

Mint - I strip the mint from the stems and store in jars for use as tea leaves, etc.

Basil - I strip the leaves from the stem and grind into fine flakes and store in jars.

This bunch of basil, from our CSA, will need a few more days to dry fully in the fridge.
A coffee or spice grinder makes quick work of the dry leaves.  
Grind to your personal specifications!
I dried three types of basil: sweet basil, lemon basil, and cinnamon basil
Oils and Vinegars
I have only tried this with rosemary and bay leaves. 

Clean, air-dried, fresh herbs can be added to pure oil or vinegar for an infused oil or vinegar product; it is a fun way to add variation to your cooking cabinet.

Our porch garden thrived this year
The buckets I gleaned from bakeries and grocery stores in the area;
the container Mr H built
Freezing Herbs
Tender, leafy herbs like cilantro or basil are the best candidates for freezing - their flavor is well preserved! 

Puree leaves with olive oil and put into bags; freeze.  Using scissors or a knife, snip off desired amount for a recipe.  Or, mash into ice cube trays and freeze solid.

Stuff chopped herbs into ice cube trays and cover with water; freeze.

Stuff leaves into bags and freeze whole; chop leaves coarsely or finely and stuff into bags and freeze.

one of the many batches of basil we harvested over the summer

You don't have to remove the stems from herbs like parsley or cilantro, but you can if you wish. If you are pureeing them, however, definitely don't bother.

Remove the stems if you wish.  This is not necessary.  
Mince finely for storage in freezer bags. 
For loose, disorganized leaves: Wash, bunch together, and hold with one hand while chopping.
Jump to 1:05 of this video to see how to quickly chop herbs with a stationary knife.  

Stocking up,
Mrs H

tweet us @_mrs_h for chewy nuggets
Pin us at Pinterest for pretty photos and intriguing articles
Follow us on Facebook for recipes, giveaways, and brilliant flashes of perspiration!

This post is linked at Monday Mania, Real Food Wednesdays, Wednesday Fresh Foods, What's In the Box Wednesdays, and Simple Lives Thursdays



Related Posts with Thumbnails