This year, I have managed to successfully kill all of the herbs on my balcony garden except my parsley, which has somehow thrived. It means that I have to buy fresh herbs from the supermarket, which is expensive especially if you use herbs regularly in your cooking. You can forget about buying the plants – I’m pretty sure they are designed to die within two weeks.
If you buy fresh bunches, they usually last a maximum of a couple of weeks before they go bad so I’ve found the best way to keep them is to preserve them. You can of course do this with your herb plants if you have grown them from seed too – just make sure you harvest them before the end of the season.
Freezing is the simplest method and works really well on most herbs. It keeps the flavor really fresh, and is great if you need to put your herbs into hot dishes. All you need to do is wash your herbs, shake off the excess water, remove the stems if you want to (you don’t need to dry them) and put them into a freezer bag. These will keep for up to 6 months.
Drying takes more time. There are two ways you can do this. For those of you who have room, you can hang your herbs. Make sure you wash your herbs and dry them before you put them into bunches and hang in a dry, warm and dark place. To aid this you can also cover them with brown paper bags with pierced airholes to ventilate your herbs. For those of you with no hanging space place your herbs in between two pieces of baking paper and leave for 1-3 weeks. They are done when the leaves are crumbly. Store the leaves whole in an airtight container as these will keep for longer and retain their flavor for longer.
Steep your herbs in oil for long-term preservation. Clean your herbs, and then choose an oil. Olive oil is the best, but you can use other oils if you prefer. Using this method will mean your oil will be flavoured with whatever herb you are using too, which is a nice added bonus. If you’re planning on using the herbs in your cooking too, make sure you remove the stems of the herbs and use a container that enables you to scoop out the herbs.
You can also use a dehydrator, but if you haven’t got one it is not necessary. All you need to do is remove the stems, wipe them dry and process them in your dehydrator according to the instructions. Then make sure you store the leaves in an airtight container.
I hope I have inspired you to preserve your herbs.
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Ashley is the country manager of Flipit Australia. She is also a writer, blogger and frugal money saver.