It is a practice of many gardeners to dry herbs from their garden so that it maintains its freshness longer than expected. Drying herbs is likewise a convenient and effective method of preserving herbs. However, too much water in the herbs result to molding before the plant becomes dried.
For herbs with high water content such as chives lemon balm, mint and tarragon, and basil, the best option for preserving herbs is fresh freezing. With this method the plant will become limp but the flavor will remain.
On the other hand, freezing herbs will retain the flavor of the plant for several months. While drying herbs leads to a more concentrated flavor, frozen herbs can be used in similar amounts as fresh herbs. Preserving herbs through fresh freezing involves several steps.
1. Harvest the freshest and healthiest leaves that you can find.
2. Whenever possible, wash and pat dry using paper towel.
3. Lay down each leaf on a small tray or cookie sheet. Individually freezing the leaves will keep them from being frozen together like a brick.
4. Cover and put the tray of leaves into the freezer.
5. Put the frozen leaves in airtight containers and return to the freezer. By freezing the leaves separately, they will not mold together.
Another cheap and convenient method of preserving herbs is air drying. Although the process is slow, it does not lessen the oils of the herbs. This method is suitable on herbs that have low moisture content such as marjoram, thyme, oregano, dill, and summer savory.
Basil, Tarragon, Mint, and other moisture dense herbs can be best preserved by using a dehydrator. Using microwave or oven in drying herbs is a last option. Doing so would lessen the oil and flavor of the herb.
When preserving herbs, keep them in air tight containers such as zip closing bags or small canning jars. Just make sure that each container is dated and labeled. For best results, store the entire leaves and crush them when you need them.
In addition, remove dried herbs that show minimal signs of mold. Store the container in a cool and dry location away from the sun. Aside from that, dried herbs are best used in a span of one year. As the herbs lose their color so is their flavor. As a substitute for one tablespoon of fresh leaves, use one teaspoon of crushed dried leaves instead.
These are just some of the methods used in preserving herbs. By following these tips, you can look forward to keeping your herbs fresh and flavorful.