Herbs and Spices: Preservation
If your garden herbs are growing out of control or you don’t know what to do with the big bunch of herbs you bought at the farmers market, it’s time to extend their use with proper storage. Fresh herbs can be kept in the fridge by placing their stems in a glass filled with a small amount of water and an unsealed plastic bag over the top (asparagus should also be kept this way). If after two weeks you still have unused herbs you have two options:
Option 1: Freezing
This method works best for soft-leaf herbs such as basil, dill, parsley and chives. Leaves and stems can be placed in a plastic bag (squeeze out the air!), and then kept in the freezer for up to six months. Defrosting is unnecessary before using, but the leaves may lose some of their integrity, so it’s best to use them in mixed dishes. Leafy herbs can also be placed in ice cube trays, covered with water and frozen. It’s easy to season a winter soup by tossing a few cubes into your pot.
Option 2: Drying
This method works particularly well with hardier herbs such as thyme, oregano, sage, rosemary and bay leaves. Simply wash the herbs, dry them off, and then hang them upside down until they are dried out. Remove the leaves and keep in a tightly sealed bag or jar for up to one year. Another method of drying includes microwaving the herbs for 30 seconds at a time until crisp. According to Bon Appetit magazine, you shouldn’t have to microwave them for more than 2-3 minutes total.
If you like kitchen gadgets you can try the Prepara Herb-Savor. I can’t vouch for it, but it looks like it should work because the herbs are sitting in water and are covered by the plastic top. All of these methods will help you enjoy summer-fresh herbs all year long!