Jul 1, 2009

Endless Summer

by Ellen Wilson

Save and store your fresh herbs for the winter months.

Keep the taste of summer. Before fresh herbs become a thing of the past, purchase some bundles from a booth at the farmer's market or gather the last of your garden for drying. Drying herbs can be done in a few different ways depending on which herbs you are drying. If drying isn't an option, freezing is another simple way to add flavor to the winter months.

Air Drying
Works best with oregano, thyme, sage and similar herbs.
  • Remove any dirt or withered leaves. If you need to rinse the leaves, be sure to dry them completely because wet leaves will mold.
  • Divide into small bunches and secure with string or a rubber band.
  • Hang upside down in a warm, dry, well-ventilated space with no sunlight. You may want to cover the bunches with a paper bag (punch a few holes in the bag). Just be sure to leave enough room in the bag for air to circulate.
  • Dry until the leaves crumble, between 1-4 weeks. You can then store in an airtight container for up to a year. For most herbs, it's a good idea to store them whole and crush just before using.
Oven Drying
Works best with oregano, thyme, sage and similar herbs.
  • Preheat oven to 150 degrees.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (metal can affect the flavor so this step is crucial) and spread herbs in one layer across the sheet.
  • Place in oven with door slightly ajar.
  • Remove when crumbly, between 1-4 hours. Check frequently. These may also be stored for up to one year in an airtight container.
Works best with leafy herbs, such as basil, cilantro, parsley, and tarragon.
  • For herb cubes: Chop herbs and then pack them tightly into an ice cube tray. Add a little water or broth for freezing. The ratio should be around 50/50 for herbs and liquid. Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • For paste: Blend herbs and a little oil or water into a paste. Freeze in airtight bags or containers for up to 3 months.

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