Preserving the Herb Harvest
There are several ways I like to put up my herbs during the summer to be used during the winter months, when the snow covers the ground and there are no greens in sight. It not only saves money on pricey herb bunches, but it allows me to enjoy bright vibrant flavors and nutrition packed leaves when I need it most.
Frozen as Pesto Cubes
I make a huge batch of my favorite pesto, portion off into ice cube trays and place in the freezer. Once frozen solid, the cubes can be transferred into a freezer bag, labeled and stuck in the back of the freezer to be taken out and enjoyed in a variety of portion sizes. I use these on pizza, tossed with pasta or spread on wraps. You can use any herb, but my favorites are basil and rosemary.
Freezing the leaves whole
Can't be simpler than this. Simply harvest, wash, remove leaves and spread out on a baking sheet to freeze. Once frozen, transfer to a freezer bag and label, to be pulled out in small amounts without sticking together. The texture will be a bit off (not the best for fresh salads) but the flavor remains vibrant. I use my frozen leaves for sauces, smoothies salad dressings or anything baked or stir-fried, where texture is less important. I use this method with parsley, cilantro, sage, chives, lemongrass and mint. Even kale for that matter. Nothing better than Vitamin C rich summer parsley during the winter flu season!
Simply harvest, wash, dry and bunch your herbs with a rubber band. Hang upside-down indoors or out for a few weeks until completely dry. To simplify storing, you can then remove the leaves and store in a airtight container (they'll fall off easier once dry). The stems are great for soup stock. I prefer this method for the oilier herbs, such as thyme, rosemary and sage, as they hold their original flavor better. I also like it with tulsi basil and mint for loose leaf tea.
There you are! Hopefully this inspires you to take the time to preserve your garden herbs for the upcoming winter, or to grow a few more in your garden next year. There is no better way to eat locally, and promote health during the long winter months.