Herbs make an excellent addition to your garden, whether you want to grow them indoors or in your vegetable garden. The plants are versatile and low maintenance, making them the ideal option for beginners and gardening pros. Plus, they are easy to grow, and you can opt for your favorites, creating a custom selection of your favorite garnishes.
You can harvest many herbs throughout the season and enjoy them in almost every summer meal. But what should you do with the leaves once you’ve picked them? Below, you’ll discover the best tips and methods for storing and preserving herbs to make the most out of your yield.
Tools You’ll Need to Store Fresh Herbs
There are a few different tools you’ll need to properly store herbs to ensure they last as long as possible. Depending on the storage method, some of the tools listed below are optional.
- Clean water
- Paper towel or clean cloth
- Jar or glass
- Plastic bag
- Freezer bag or freezer-safe container
- Cookie sheet or ice cube tray
- Dehydrator, microwave, or oven
- Airtight container
Methods for Storing Fresh Herbs
Fresh herbs are best when you use them immediately after harvesting, so pick them straight from the plant and add them to your meal. Just wash them in clean water and dry them in a paper towel or clean towel.
But if you don’t intend to use your herbs soon after harvesting or buying, refrigeration is the best choice. Start by trimming the stems of the herbs and filling a glass or jar with clean water. Place the herbs in the glass and cover them with a plastic bag. Avoid sealing the plastic bag to allow for air circulation. Change the water daily and store the herbs for up to a week.
Pro Tip: Remove all discolored or damaged herbs to avoid premature rotting or wilting. Also, handle the herbs gently to avoid damaging them.
If your herbs are fresh but you aren’t ready to use them, just freeze them! Though you can freeze some herbs, such as dill on their stems, it is best to remove the leaves. Then, place the leaves on a cookie sheet and freeze them. You can put the frozen leaves in a freezer bag or freezer-safe container for later use.
If you like to be extra prepared, chop the herbs and fill an ice cube tray half full with them (about one tablespoon in each section). Top with water and freeze, popping the cubes out and storing them in a freezer-safe bag.
You can also freeze herbs in oil, mixing a 1/2 cup of oil with two cups of herbs. Freeze the mixture in a freezer-safe container and scrape the amount you need every time you use it. Remember to write the date on the containers and use the frozen herbs within four to six months.
As a side note, frozen herbs tend to change texture, so it’s best to use them when cooking rather than as a garnish. You can use the same amount of frozen herbs as you would fresh herbs.
There are many different ways to dry herbs, including air drying or dehydrating in the oven, microwave, or a dehydrator. Air drying by hanging is one of the simplest methods. Easily tie the herbs together in small bunches with twine, wrap them in muslin, and hang them to dry for seven to 10 days.
To dehydrate, start by laying the herbs flat in the dehydrator trays. Then, turn the dehydrator on the lowest setting and allow it to run for two hours. To bake, set the oven on its lowest setting and lay the herbs flat on a baking sheet. Bake the herbs for 30 minutes. For the microwave, remove the leaves from the stem and wash the herbs. Pat them dry and microwave between two paper towels for 30-second increments until they have fully dried.
You can store dried herbs for up to one year. Store in an air-tight container in a cool, dark area such as a cupboard or pantry. Ensure the herbs are completely dry. Otherwise, they may become moldy.
Pro Tip: Dried herbs are much stronger than fresh herbs. As a general rule, use one teaspoon of dried herbs as opposed to one tablespoon of fresh herbs for a recipe.
Herbs Get Better With Sage
Fresh herbs make a delicious addition to your garden, but you may not always have the weather to grow them. Fortunately, you can store fresh herbs in a few different ways to suit your needs. You’ll get the most out of your herbs and enjoy them throughout the season, easily refrigerating, freezing, or drying them according to your preferences.
Have you used any of these methods to store your fresh herbs before? What tips and tricks have you learned along the way? Share in the comments below!