How to Preserve Fresh Herbs

Don’t let your home-grown herbs go to waste. Learn how to preserve fresh herbs with these simple strategies.

| September/October 2014

Herbs are amazing garden crops. Expensive to buy but cheap and easy to grow, herbs are useful in just about any dish, provide a huge array of health benefits and can be preserved in numerous ways. Use our tips to keep your homegrown herbs on hand all year.

Harvesting Tips: Success Begins in the Garden

The longer after their peak you wait to harvest most herbs, the less flavor they will have. The right time
varies by plant part.

Foliage: Pick when plant is beginning to form buds.  
Flowers: Pick when blooms are newly opened.
All parts: Pick in the morning on a sunny day when plants have dried but before the hottest part of the day, which can affect the plants’ essential oil concentrations.

Drying Herbs

Bundling Herbs
• Best for quick-drying, tougher herbs such as mints (except apple mint), rosemary, thyme and sage

• Use rubber bands to secure 12 to 15 stems into a bundle.

• Hang in a cool, airy room away from direct sunlight.

10/9/2015 12:50:56 PM

Tried everything to preserve basil. Last year almost none made it except what I had made into pesto and frozen. It was excellent through the winter. This year, I tried dehydrating in a professional dryer and had a decent yield that did not turn black. I pulled leaves from the stem and it took 3 days. Basil is challenging. Have frozen in ice cube trays with olive oil as JulieB said. Midwest here too, thyme I trim all through the season and just lay loosely on a screen to dry. Lavender we harvest as it blooms in the early summer-no experience with trying it now w/out flowers. Calendula on screens, sage/Melissa/anise hyssop tied in bunches out of the sun in a dry place. If space is limited old fashioned folding men's tie racks works well for tied bunches.

10/7/2015 9:50:31 AM

In the past, as soon as I picked basil from my garden, it would turn black. But, I never figured out why. I am container gardening this year and the basil is good when dried. However, I decided to put some in olive oil to make flavored oil, and it turned black. Not sure if oil is spoiled now. Also, wish I had read about the parsley sooner. It's in bundles hanging in my pantry. Hopefully, I can find some screen in the shed. And, I just clipped some thyme and am hanging it. What about lavender leaves and stems? I don't have any flowers on my plant and wondering if I can still dry the leaves. BTW, perfect timing for this article as the midwest is starting to chill.

8/25/2014 6:01:29 PM

@JulieB Do you dry them in a cool and dark place? I can't imagine why they would turn black, but that's how we dry ours and they come out fine.

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