How Do You Preserve Herbs?
That is the second most common question I get at our weekly farmers market stand. The first question I get about herbs is how to use fresh herbs. Luckily, I’ve written a blog post about the many ways to use fresh herbs. So, let’s focus on how to preserve them.
What to do With a Bunch of Herbs?
The most common way to preserve herbs is to dry them. Dried herbs can last for years. They do lose potency over time, but dried herbs do not go bad (unless they are exposed to moisture, then they can get moldy). Drying herbs is quick and requires very little prepping: pick, wash and dry. This method works for all herbs.
Another way to preserve herbs is to chop them up and mix them with salt. This is one of my favorite methods. Herb salts make perfect seasoning for a multitude of dishes and you can customize them to your tastes.
Herbs can also be preserved in oil or vinegar. This method makes a delicious oil or vinegar ready for cooking or salad dressing.
My favorite way to preserve herbs is by making a paste. It’s the same method in which you would make a pesto, but without adding nuts, garlic or cheese. I like this method because I feel it’s the best way to preserve an herb and retain it’s garden fresh taste.
Herbs like basil, chives and parsley lose a lot of their vibrancy when dried. By preserving them in a paste, you can retain much of their herby punch. The best part about an herb paste, is that when you need a tablespoon of say, basil, you can grab it from the freezer, scrape out a tablespoon and put the rest away.
How to Make a Herb Paste
- Fresh Herbs (any herb can be used for making a paste)
- Oil (I like to use a light olive oil)
- Food Processor
- Freezable Containers or ice cube trays (I used these 8 oz deli containers)
Add the washed fresh herbs to your food processor. Pulse the food processor until the herbs are finely chopped. With processor running, drizzle some olive oil until a smooth paste forms. Scrape down the sides and repeat if need.
Scrape the paste into a freezable container or a glass jar with a wide opening. At this point, you can store in the fridge and it will last up to 2 weeks. For longer storage, pop it in the freezer. When you are ready to use the frozen herb paste, scrape off what you need with a metal spoon. If it’s too hard, let it sit on the counter for a few minutes. Alternatively, you can freeze the herb paste in ice cube trays. Once frozen, pop out the herb paste cubes and store in a plastic zip bag.
Now you have herbs ready for your next dish!
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