Fresh herbs grown in the kitchen or garden can help to inject a variety of flavors to any dish. Garden herbs are possible to use year-round by relying on the drying and freezing techniques. This helps to preserve the herbs for later use.
Here are the best options for preserving the garden-fresh herbs:
Herbs get their flavor from the contained essential oils. This is easily preserved using the freezing technique. To prepare the leaves for freezing, just remove the stem leaves, give them wash under cold water, and leave to dry. Once dry, the leaves can be gathered and placed in a plastic bag for freezing. Frozen herbs can be used at a later date for soups, sauces, etc.
A further option is to combine a preferred herb with oil to create a paste-like material. This is easily frozen in ice-cube trays or plastic bags. A paste can consist of just one type of herb, such as mint or oregano, or blended with several herbs, such as sage, parsley, thyme, or oregano, to create a more unique taste.
Popular types of herbs for freezing include rosemary, chives, sage, sweet cicely, thyme, basil, dill, parsley, oregano, mint, tarragon, and lemon balm.
Certain herbs like thyme, sage and oregano are great to air-dry. Herbs are easily dried by hanging in a dark and well-ventilated room. Also, try to give constant heat to the room while the herbs are drying out. Once the herbs are dry, pull or cut the leaves from the stem and place in an airtight container for storage.
Herbs with large or thick leaves, such as parsley and basil, are difficult to dry out in a room inside the home. So, for the succulent herbs and leaves, make sure to use a food dehydrator to speed up the process.
Some of the preferred herbs for drying include mint, basil, tarragon, rosemary, oregano, dill, sage, scented geraniums, savory, fennel, and parsley.
Also, it is crucial to harvest the fresh herbs at the right time. The preferred time to gather the herbs is when the first flower buds emerge, and before being able to fully open. This helps to maintain a higher percent of essential oils in the different varieties of herb. The best time to starting picking the herbs is at the start of the day before the sun rises and the day gets too hot. Also, start the preserving process as soon as possible if planning to freeze or dry these plants.
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Photo. Simon Howden