Preserving Herbs For Winter Use

I've been growing my own herbs for over 15 years. I don't grow a lot, just the herbs I use most in my recipes. I also grow some herbs just because I like how they smell or how they look.

The herbs I grow include Thyme, Basil, Sage, Parsley, Rosemary, Basil and Chives (although I don't preserve chives or bay leaves)

In the fall I pick all my herbs and prepare them for either drying or freezing. That way I can enjoy fresh herbs all year long! And there is nothing better than stuffing for the Thanksgiving turkey than fresh sage leaves (dried) and thyme.

I thought I'd just post a brief list of herbs that you can dry and those that fare better if you freeze them.

I dry Thyme, Sage and Rosemary. You should harvest your herbs before they flower if possible. Don't harvest them on a humid or rainy day and make sure you harvest them early in the morning.

I pick out any damaged bits, shake them to get rid of bugs, and then I tie them by their branches into loose bundles of 4. I use ribbon to tie mine then I hang them from an antique wooden dryer (it hangs on the wall and has umbrella like dowels that come out when raised). The dryer is near my woodstove. A few weeks of dry heat dries the herbs very nicely. Hang them wherever you like but avoid moisture or sunshine.

Once the herbs are dry, untie them, strip the leaves from their stalks by rubbing gently with your hands or stripping down from top to bottom. Then place the herbs in jars. I use antique depression dark green glass containers and then place those containers in a dark cupboard.

I freeze Basil and Parsley. Many people freeze sage but I have never had a problem with drying it. I don't crumble sage once it's dry, I just gently put the dried leaves into my glass containers. Basil and parsley keep better when frozen. If you are going to wash these herbs first, make sure they are very dry before freezing - use a paper towel to soak any moisture from them. I don't wash mine, I just shake them then freeze them.

You can freeze them in small plastic bags or ice cube trays. If you freeze them in ice cube trays, put them in bags when frozen and keep them in the freezer (labelled of course) until needed

You just can't beat your own homegrown herbs over store bought bits of powder that may have been sitting for months exposed to sunlight and losing their flavour.


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