Preserving Fresh Herbs, easy, healthy, delicious and budget-friendly. Never throw away fresh herbs again; dry, freeze or make flavorful compound butter. Fabulous!
NOTE – This post is meant for teaching and may not be full of mouth-watering goodness, but the information I share below will help you create mouth-watering goodness in the future. Enjoy! In the meantime, get out to the garden and harvest your herbs, so you have deliciousness all Winter.
Preserving Fresh Herbs
Whether you have a Herb Garden or you buy Fresh Herbs from the grocery to use in cooking, you will probably end up with leftover packages of herbs. Do not let them go to waste. The suggestions for preserving fresh herbs below can be utilized with large or small amounts of product.
Ways To Preserve Fresh Herbs Offered In This Post
- Freezing in Olive Oil, Broth, or Stock
- Tray Drying
- Allow Blooms To Seed
- Paper Bag Drying (The best results for Drying)
- Creating Compound Butters
Part of my Herb Garden, pictured above, is slightly over-grown and that was on purpose. When I harvest herbs to preserve them, I let the garden grow into an abundance of harvest possibilities. To begin, cut the herbs you would like to preserve, then wash and let dry thoroughly.
Hint and Tip: When washing herbs, use the spray nozzle set to a soft medium spray. Holding the herbs by the stems, upside down, spray with water and shake off the excess. Layout to dry on paper towel lined sheet trays. It is best not to soak the herbs in water for two reasons. If there are any bacteria on any leaves, it will spread through the entire bunch. Secondly, herbs would rather be sprinkled than soaked.
Preserving Fresh Herbs – Freezing in Olive Oil, Broth, or Stock
Freezing is an easy way to preserve fresh herbs and a welcomed addition to Wintertime soups, stews, and sauces. Use a combination of herbs or a single variety and measure the desired amount into an ice cube tray. Cover the herbs with good Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, or Broth, or Stock, or Water. You can also cover with melted unsalted butter as well. Cover the trays with plastic wrap, freeze, and remove the cubes from the tray. Place in plastic freezer bags and put the bags into a plastic container. This will protect your precious cubes from being broken or the herbs from bruising. It is essential to label the trays before filling and freezing, as well as label the storage bags or plastic containers for storage.
Sample Label: 1 tablespoon oregano in 2 tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, 10-10-16
The herbs can be chopped, or a paste can be made using a food processor before you freeze. I chose to leave the options open as this can be accomplished after frozen and then thawing for the use at hand.
To see Farmhouse Kitchens and French Pears suggestions on what herb combinations to use for what foods, click below.
Drying Fresh Herbs On Trays
Drying Herbs on trays worked very well for me, but there are a couple of things to consider. Do you have enough trays and do you have room to store the trays while the herbs dry? I own a speed cart, and it worked like a top to dry my herbs on trays.
Wash and dry the herbs and separate the leaves from the stems laying in single layers on a parchment lined sheet tray. Cover with cheese cloth and let dry for 4 to 6 weeks. Store in a dry, darkish place to dry. Once the herbs are dry, gently break into pieces for the glass storage container. Before adding them to soup or stew, I will break each amount desired for that dish by rubbing the dried herbs between the palms of my hands; this releases the oil and the aromatics once again.
Hint and Tip: As you can see I label everything while working through the process. Once leaves have dried it can be a little confusing when finishing the project.
Hint and Tip: Store dried herbs in sealed glass containers. Plastic containers or bags create static electricity and cause the herb pieces to adhere to the sides of the container.
(My favorite drying method and the best aromatic results I tried, was the paper bag method. More about that below.)
Tray Drying Herbs After Four Weeks
Harvesting Herb Seeds
I love cooking with Fennel Bulbs, so I decided to try and grow it. It grew great, but the bulb itself never did so I decided to let it seed out. To seed out the fennel, let it grow, the herb will bolt out and flower, and the flowers will produce seeds. Harvest the stem of seeds once the seeds begin to fall off easily. Bring the stem of seeds inside and dry in a paper bag. Remove the seeds and store in a glass container. How easy is that?
Preserving Fresh Herbs by Hanging Inside Paper Bags
The drying herbs in the paper bag method became my favorite way to produce a good crop of dried herbs. A paper bag is not necessary to hang herbs to dry, but for culinary purposes, the bag will keep bugs and dust off of the herbs while they dry. Label and date a paper bag and punch holes into the sides using a paper punch. Once the herbs have been washed and dried, gather a couple of stems at the cut end and tie them together. Carefully slip the tied herbs, leaves going in first, into a paper bag leaving the tied ends out of the bag. Do not crowd the leaves inside the bag. There needs to be enough room for a good flow of ventilation between the stems. Tie the bag shut and hang to dry in a well ventilated dry place. The herbs can be checked in 2 to 4 weeks.
Once the herbs are dry, remove the stems from the bag. Discard the bag. It is wise to always use a clean bag for the next drying season. Below is a photo of dried Aussie Sweet Basil that was dried using the paper bag method.
Remember to turn the bag upside down after removing the dried herbs. There could be some leaves in the bottom of the bag from falling off during the process.
When removing the dried leaves from the stems, I found it was easier to cup my hand around the bunch and gently squeeze the leaves off. Keep in mind; the leaves will pop and go everywhere when removing them with too much force. The dried herbs can be stored in glass containers without crushing the leaves. In fact, I leave the leaves as large as I can and crush them before using them in cooking.
Why Preserve Fresh Herbs
Preserve Fresh Herbs because you can. It saves you money and adds that extra special flavor and delight to your dishes all year long. Enjoy!
Compound Butter Quick and Easy Recipe Below
Compound Butter is a flavorful butter used to finish pan sauces, used as an instant sauce on its own or to spread on biscuits, bread, or top potatoes or rice. I try to keep a couple of different kinds of compound butter in my freezer for that quick addition to any meal. It is a great way to preserve herbs as well. More recipes and combinations for Compound Butter will be shared sometime in the future.
Compound butter can be made and frozen in individual servings or rolled into a log for easy slicing to top grilled chicken, fish, or a nice juicy steak.
What Herbs Go With What Foods?
I wrote two teachings sharing what herbs go with what foods. Bookmark these pages for easy reference.
- Herbs In Soup
- Herbs With Poultry
- Herbs With Fish
- Herbs With Eggs and Fish
- Herbs With Meat
- Herbs With Vegetables
- Herbs In Salads
- Basil is sweet, aromatic and slightly spicy. Pairs wonderfully with berries, Mediterranean fruits and summer fruits with bold flavors, Apricots, Berries, Figs, Peaches, Plums.
Joyfully, I do create a window Herb Garden to supply my kitchen with fresh herbs all winter long. Lovely!
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Quick and Easy Compound Butter
Yield 2 cups
Preserving Fresh Herbs, easy, healthy, delicious and budget-friendly. Never throw away fresh herbs again; dry, freeze or make flavorful compound butter. | farmhousekitchensandfrenchpears.com
- 16 tablespoons unsalted butter softened
- 1 cup fresh parsley, loosely packed, then finely chopped
- 4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
- Fresh ground pepper, optional
- By hand, mix and work together the herbs and softened butter. Add the salt and lemon juice and mix to incorporate fully. Shape into a log using wax paper or scoop into individual serving size pieces.
- At this point, store in the refrigerator for two hours before serving or freeze.
- For the log, tie the ends together and freeze. Store the wrapped frozen log in a plastic bag
- For individual scoops, freeze on a parchment lined sheet tray, keeping the scoops of butter separated. Remove from the tray and place a plastic container layered between parchment or wax paper.