Preserving the Summer Herb Garden

All summer, you’ve been snipping fresh herbs for daily cooking. Don’t let the cool weather end your enjoyment

By FamilyTime

 The pots of herbs on the deck or patio are lush and fragrant and the plants in the garden are at their peak. All summer, you’ve happily added handfuls of fresh herbs to everyday dishes, enjoying the zest and full flavor they provide.

Don’t let the onset of cooler weather toll the end of your herb cookery. With a little imagination and time, you can preserve your glorious herbs until next year’s crop starts to grow.

Drying Herbs  
There’s no great trick to drying herbs. Pick herbs that are not flowering. Make sure they are dry (a rainy morning is not a good day to harvest herbs).

Leave the leaves on the stem and gather and tie them in small bunches to allow good air circulation. If the herb stems are large, you can lay them on a rack.

Hang herb bunches in a dry, warm room – not a humid area such as the kitchen or laundry room. Hang them from a rack or line, far enough from the wall and each other so that air circulates freely.

When dry, gently strip the leaves from the stems, crumble the leaves slightly between your fingers. Store them in a tightly lidded glass or ceramic container. Plastic is not recommended.

Opaque jars are best – or plan to store clear jars in a dark cupboard. Light and heat sap the herbs of essential oils, so you want to avoid both.

Freezing Herbs
To freeze herbs, lay dry, leafy stems of herbs in a single layer on a baking sheet or other tray. Freeze until stiff.

Pull the leaves from the stems, taking care to handle the brittle leaves carefully. Crumble them slightly, if you want, and store in a rigid container in the freezer until you need them. The herb leaves are too fragile for freezer bags.

Use dried or frozen herbs all winter long to season soups, stews, vegetables, and baked goods.