Whether drying, growing, freezing, or gifting, we’ve got you covered with six ways to preserve fresh herbs so you can waste less, save more, and pump up the flavour in your food.
One of the best things about summer is the fresh, fragrant, and vibrant produce we have access to in Canada. Herbs are easy to find and grow almost anywhere and with these tips, you’ll be able to add vibrant flavour and fragrance to your dishes all year round!
Growing Fresh Herbs
You’ve still got time and growing fresh herbs is not only easy and rewarding; it can also be a cheap way to add oodles of flavour to your dishes. If you have a nice sunny ledge, a window box, or a good patch of dirt in your backyard, you can still keep and grow herbs until the fall. Just pop them in a bit of soil with some sun and water them periodically.
Sturdier herbs, like rosemary, will even last through some of the colder months. If you’re not up for tending an herb garden, not to worry! Now a days most grocery stores stock fresh organic herbs in pots all year round.
How To Preserve Fresh Herbs Longer
You can keep herbs fresh for as long as possible by bunching them up, wrapping them in a damp paper towel, and storing them in the fridge. You can put the stems of more delicate herbs like cilantro, parsley, and basil in a jar with water like you would fresh flowers.
How To Make Fresh Herb Butter Compounds
Chopped herbs can be mixed into room temperature butter for a quick compound butter. The ratio is typically 2-4 tablespoons of herbs to a pound of softened butter. And if you’re using unsalted butter, be sure to salt it to taste! Roll it up like a candy wrapper with parchment paper and place it in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm up–incidentally, this also makes a lovely little gift.
And while you’re at it, why not bake some fresh homemade bread (or try this no-knead bread, or this pumpkin millet sandwich loaf, or this seedy gluten-free loaf, or this Irish soda bread, or this focaccia) to go with your herb butter? It’s a match made in heaven.
How To Freeze Fresh Herbs
If you’ve got a few bits and bobs of herbs, try freezing them in ice cube trays that you’ve filled with oil or stock. The size of the ice cube tray is pretty handy making the perfect amount of oil to simply pop into a pan for when you need to sauté something. It also keeps that little bit of stock fresh and more flavourful to add to soups, stews, or even mashed potatoes.
It’s as simple as adding your leftover herbs to the trays, covering with oil or stock, and freezing until set.
Preserving Fresh Herbs In Oil
Another way to get the most out of your fresh herbs is to liquidize them a blender with oil. You can keep the mixture in the fridge to add an herby oil punch to salads, fish, veggies, or meats.
How To Dry Fresh Herbs
Drying is probably the easiest method and one that most people already know about. Simply bunch up your herbs, wrap the ends with some twine, and hang them upside down in a warm, dry place. Drying can take anywhere from 12-36 hours depending on the environment. Once crisp, add them to a jar and use them just like you would regular dried herbs.
Want some creative ideas for using and saving your fresh herbs? Check out this post from Food and Wine.
Got any other herb saving tips? Leave them in the comments below. I would love to know what everyone else is doing.
This post was originally published in September, 2018. It has been updated with improvements June 11, 2019.