Drying is the most effective way to keep many herbs. To dry herbs, harvest long stems where ever possible. Wash then thoroughly and shake off as much water as possible. Fasten several stalks together (no more that six!) at the bottom with elastic bands. Insert a twist tie through the elastic and use it to suspend the herbs upside down in a dark, dry place - not in the sun!!! When herbs are completely dry, place the entire stalk in plastic bag or a plastic container and store in a cool, dry place. DO NOT remove the leaves from the stalks or crumble the leaves until you are ready to use them. This preserves the natural essential oils present in the leaves.
Herbs that dry well:
Some herbs don’t dry well and freezing is a good alternative for them. Harvest and wash as for drying and place herbs, stems and all, in a plastic freezer bag and place in the freezer. To use, remove the bag from the freezer and crumble off the amount you want to use. Replace bag in freezer. Frozen herbs have great flavor and are wonderful in cooked dishes.
Another method for freezing that works particularly well with parsley is to put the herbs in the blender with some water and blend them together. Freeze the mixture in ice cube trays. Once frozen, the ‘herb cubes’ can be removed from the trays and kept in plastic bags. Add a cube or two to soups, stews, etc.
Herbs that freeze well:
*We have tried for years to dry parsley and have not been able to preserve the color and flavor of fresh parsley. Yes, you can buy dried parsley in the grocery store, but it sure doesn’t taste like fresh!
Salting herbs is a very old method of preservation, dating from the days before refrigeration. It is often found in French Canadian cuisine and is somewhat out of favor in these health conscious times.
It is quick, easy and low tech; try a jar or two and enjoy a little history!
Salted herb recipes usually contain leafy herbs, like parsley, chives and celery leaves. Some contain finely grated carrot or onion, so feel free to experiment. The simplest recipes contain only onion, chive and salt - a little dull for our tastes!
Making salted herbs is simplicity itself. Harvest and wash herb leaves and chop them finely. Remove any stems. For every cup of leaves, you will need 1/4 cup of pickling salt. Layer the herbs and salt in a crock, should you be luck enough to have one. If not, use a glass jar. Make sure you end with a layer of salt, then cover the crock or jar. Place it in a cool, dry place for about a month. During this time, the salt will draw liquid from the herbs and this will form a brine. To use salted herbs, toss a spoonful in a soup or casserole or use it to flavor your favorite meat dish.
Here's a simple recipe to get you started:
1 cup fresh chives, chopped finely
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped finely
1 cup leeks, chopped finely
1 cup green parts of scallion, chopped finely
2 cups celery leaves, chopped finely
1/2 cup fresh savory, chopped finely
1/4 cup fresh sage, chopped finely
2 cups pickling salt
This recipe is not written in stone. Don't have savory in your garden? Use thyme instead! Hate celery? Leave it out! (Just remember to adjust the amount of salt if you change the amount of herbs.)
For other uses for herbs, see our
Herbal Teas, Herbal Vinegar, Pesto and Recipe pages.