Now that summer is here, chances are pretty good that you have an abundance of fresh herbs. Rather than let them go to waste, you can always save them for later by preserving them! Here are some of our favorite methods:
One of the easiest ways to preserve fresh herbs is by air-drying them. However, this method also takes the longest because it can take up to a week for them to dry completely. Before you dry the herbs, gently wash them to remove any dirt. Dry off any excess water with paper towels before starting the air-drying process to prevent mold from forming. Then, you can choose one of these methods to air-dry the herbs:
• Place the herbs on dry paper towels in a dark room. Remove from the paper towels when herbs crumble to the touch.
• Gently tie the stems of the fresh herbs together with a piece of kitchen twine and hang them upside down, away from heat and light.
• Place the herbs in brown paper bags, seal the bags, and place in a cool, dark area.
All of these methods work equally well. Simply choose the one that’s the easiest for you to execute. Once the herbs are dry, you’ll want to store them in an airtight container away from heat and light.
Oven drying herbs is a good, much quicker method to use. While air-drying can take up to a week, oven drying the herbs takes just a few hours. Start by washing the herbs to remove any dirt and sand. Pat the herbs gently with a paper towel and let them air-dry for about an hour on clean paper towels.
Preheat the oven to 150 Degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the herbs out in a single layer. Place the baking sheet in the center of the oven and leave the door slightly ajar. Check the herbs after about an hour to see how they are progressing. Depending on the herbs, it should take up to four hours for them to dry all the way through. The herbs are finished drying when they crumble easily when touched.
Again, once the herbs are dry, you’ll want to store them in an airtight container away from heat and light.
Another great way to preserve your fresh herbs is by freezing them. Chop the herbs into small pieces and pack them into the slots of an ice cube tray. Then, fill each ice cube slot with water and place the tray in the freezer. Once it’s completely frozen, you can remove each cube from the tray and store them in freezer storage bags, if desired. Each “herbal ice cube” holds about two tablespoons of chopped, fresh herbs. Only remove the correct amount from the freezer just before cooking. If you don’t want to use ice cube trays, you can always freeze small portions in individual plastic freezer bags.