Store Up Your Herbal Harvest

Preserve this year's bounty for flavor to savor throughout the fall and winter.

| October/November 2003

Your outdoor gardens and your foraging are likely to produce more herbs and greens than you can use fresh daily. Even indoor plants may bear so bountifully that you can't keep up with them. To ensure a delicious variety of herb flavors year-round without wasting any of your crop, you can preserve your herbal harvest in various ways.

Here are some herbal harvest basics before you get started:

• Herb flavors are generally strongest just before the plants flower.
• Pick healthy growth and discard damaged leaves.
• Gather herbs and greens in the morning - after the dew has dried but before the sun gets hot.
• If necessary, wash and dry herbs and greens before preserving them.

Freezing Herbs 

My favorite way to preserve many herbs and greens is to freeze them with other foods. When winter comes, my freezer overflows with green beans and summer savory, herby tomato sauce, spinach lasagne, pesto and other good dishes already flavored with fresh-tasting herbs.

Unfortunately, summer is so short and demanding that many of us do not have time to make up complicated dishes to freeze. Start simply:

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