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How to Preserve Herbs for Use Throughout the Winter

Freezing and Drying Garden Herbs: A Guide to Preserving

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.

How to Dry Garden Herbs

thyme Garden HerbLearning 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.

How to Freeze Garden Herbs

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.

  1. Spread herbs in a single layer on a baking sheet. Set in freezer and let freeze for approximately 24 hours. After herbs are completely frozen, store in an airtight container in the freezer for later use.
    • Freezing for any longer than 24 hours may result in freezer burn, darkening of natural colors and loss of flavor
  2. Mince herbs and tightly pack contents into ice cube trays. Fill trays about 2/3 full with minced herbs. Gently pour water into trays. Water should fill approximately ½ of the tray. Freeze for 24 hours. Once completely frozen, add another layer of water to top off the remaining space. Freeze again. When the second round of freezing is complete, store cubes in a plastic bag and label appropriately. Use ice cubes in party drinks or to add flavor to stews, soups and hearty sauces.
    • Some people allow the ice cube(s) to thaw in a bowl or small dish and drain the excess water before using the herbs.
  3. Mince herbs and tightly pack into ice cube trays. Fill trays approximately 2/3 full of olive oil, broth or melted butter. Freeze for 24 hours. After completely frozen, store in an airtight container in the freezer for later use.
    • These warm, rich and creamy herb ice cubes serve as a staple item in practically any dish you’re cooking. Add these ice cubes to roasts, soups, stews, sauces, fish, chicken, steak and nearly anything else!

Preserving Herbs with the Industry Experts

Jung is your most trusted and comprehensive resource for all things gardening. Whether you need a great fall gardening guide or informational composting tips, we have the industry experts to help you succeed in all your gardening endeavors. When you need fast, reliable gardening information turn to Jung.

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