Connecticut Garden Journal: Drying and Freezing Herbs | Connecticut Public Radio
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Connecticut Garden Journal: Drying and Freezing Herbs

Aug 21, 2015

Harvest herbs in the morning after the dew dries for the best flavor.

Our basil, oregano, thyme, and parsley herbs are going to town in the garden. But what do we do with all these herbs?

It’s hard to use them all in cooking, and you can only give away so many. So it’s time to start preserving them for winter.

There are many ways to preserve the flavor of your fresh herbs, including making vinegars and butters, but two of the easiest are drying and freezing them.  

Drying herbs couldn’t be simpler. Harvest stems of large-leafed herbs such as rosemary, lavender, basil, parsley and mint in the morning after the dew dries for the best flavor. That’s when the most oil has accumulated in the leaves.

Snip off six- to 12-inch-long stems, wrap the cut ends together with twine, and hang them in an airy garage, shed, or room out of direct sun.

Check them periodically, and in a few weeks, they should be dry enough to crumble and store in glass jars. Use them within six months for the best flavor.

Credit Hornet Arts / Creative Commons

Small leafed herbs such as thyme and oregano can also be dried, but the leaves shrivel into little pieces.

An easier way to preserve these, and many other herbs, is to freeze them. I like freezing batches of chives when the leaves are small and flavorful to use on baked potatoes in winter.

I also grind up batches of basil and parsley, place them in separate ice cube trays, and freeze them. I pop them out of the trays once frozen, and store them in freezer bags. They make great additions to winter soups.