Since early July, our community-supported agriculture baskets have featured generous bunches of fresh herbs, such as parsley, coriander, and basil. Garden-fresh herbs can add wonderful flavour to your favourite dishes and with proper storage and preservation, can be used all-year long. In this first blog post of our summer series, Preserving the Harvest, we share a few tips for storing and preserving fresh herbs.
Storing Fresh Herbs
Fresh herbs are a great addition to your meals but need to be used right away as they have a very short shelf life. With proper storage however, the shelf life of herbs can be extended a few days. To preserve soft herbs such as basil, parsley, and coriander, snip the bases of the stems and put the bunch in a glass of water. Cover herbs with a plastic bag and place the glass in the refrigeratorHerbs with harder stems, such as sage and tarragon, should first be wrapped in a damp paper towel and then plastic wrap, before storing in the refrigerator.
An easy and effective way to preserve your summer herbs for the colder days ahead is by drying them. Homemade dried herbs will remain fragrant for six to twelve months. The two methods for drying herbs that we recommend are air drying and oven drying.
- Air Drying: Brush the leaves to remove any dirt or gently wash them, making sure to dry them thoroughly. Using a rubber band, tie the stems of the herbs herbs together and hang the herbs upside-down in a dark, warm, and well-ventilated place. The herbs should be hung away from sunlight or covered with a paper bag. Leave the herbs to dry for one to four weeks and then store in an airtight container for up to a year.
- Oven Drying: To dry herbs more quickly, spread them out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Dry the herbs until crumbly in the oven at 150 degrees Fahrenheit for one to four hours, checking them frequently. Store in an airtight container for up to a year.
In addition to air and oven drying, fresh herbs can easily be frozen by stripping the leaves off the stems and spreading out on a baking sheet in a single layer. Once they are frozen, place the leaves in a freezer bag.
How do you preserve fresh herbs? Share your methods with us below, in the comments section!