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Preserving herbs for winter is a great way to add delightful organic flavor to warm dishes like soups, stews and sauces. For optimal results, harvest herbs at their peak when oils are most flavorful. Peak harvest time occurs during the early flowering stages, just prior to the flowers opening. After picking your herbs of choice, carefully rinse them to remove any lingering dirt or tiny garden pests. Then, gently pat herbs dry with paper towel. Now, you may begin the drying or freezing process.
Learning how to dry herbs is quite simple. Seasoned herb dryers know the fastest and simplest way to dry herbs is to place them in a food dehydrator or in a conventional oven on the lowest possible heat setting. However, others prefer a more naturalistic, aromatic and decorative approach. For nostalgic herb dryers, loosely gather herbs for even air flow and tie together with garden twine or thick string. Hang herbs upside down in a dry, cool and dark area. Herbs are fully dry when they are brittle and fall apart easily. When herbs are completely dry, store them in an airtight container for later use. The best herbs to use for the drying method are Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, Sage, Parsley and Dill.
Freezing herbs can be slightly more involved than drying, yet these methods are still incredibly simple and ultra-convenient. The best herbs for freezing are basil, parsley, mint, cilantro and chives. There are three preferred methods for freezing herbs; below we have outlined the simplest to the most decadent.
*Note: Herbs should be cleaned and dried prior to freezing.
*Note: When freezing an abundance of herbs or different kinds of herbs, be sure to label your containers appropriately.
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