4 Ways to Preserve Herbs At Home


Springtime is when your herbs are the most tender which makes it the best time to preserve them. Here are 4 ways to preserve herbs at home so you can enjoy them all year long! #preservingherbs #howtopreserveherbsfromthegarden #herbrecipesEvery year without fail, I wait until the last possible moment to harvest and preserve everything out of our garden, including my herbs.

Sure, I harvest things throughout the season to eat or enjoy fresh, but when it comes to preserving (as with many other things), I’m sort of a last-minute kinda gal. 

But this inevitably leaves me overwhelmed come summer and fall when I’ve got baskets and baskets full of food that needs to be preserved all at once. I end up wanting to pull my hair out and questioning why I’m such a glutton for punishment.

Late summer and early fall is go time around here when it comes to preserving, so this year I’m trying to take a more proactive approach and actually preserve things as they come on and are ready in the garden (what a novel idea, right?).

Last year I waited until August or September to harvest most of the herbs out of our garden. This meant that I was faced with preserving multiple baskets full of herbs at the exact same time that I had multiple baskets full of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, beans and fruits of all kinds. Since all of the fruits and veggies are much more of a priority (since they’ll rot or be destroyed by fruit flies if I don’t preserve them ASAP), the herbs had to take a back seat. Of course, this meant that I ended up drying all of them and then putting the dried herbs (whole and still on the stem) into baskets. There they remained for, oh I don’t know, six months or so until I finally stripped all of the leaves off the stems and put them away in jars in my pantry.

By the time I did this, they had collected dust and I had even forgotten what some of them were. It is hard to tell the difference between dried oregano and dried lemon balm when you mix them together in a basket and then don’t look at them again for months!

In the end, we had to toss some of them away and finally the rest did get put away. But, no sooner did we put those jars in the pantry, this year’s herbs are already coming on strong in the garden!

So, I’m doing my best to get ahead of the game this year by preserving my first batch of herbs in the spring, well before any of the summer fruits and vegetables are ripe for the picking.

 

The best time to harvest herbs

Spring is actually the best time of year to harvest herbs because this is the time of year when they’re young and tender. They haven’t had time to dry up or flower and go to seed. They’re in their prime! And that’s exactly when you should be harvesting them.

As for time of day, morning is the best time to harvest herbs because that’s when their essential oils are most concentrated in their leaves and flowers. Try to harvest herbs early in the morning before the sun is directly on them.

Related: 13 Culinary & Medicinal Herbs to Grow At Home

 

How to preserve herbs from the garden

Herbs are one of the easiest things to preserve because you don’t need any special skills or knowledge or really do anything special to preserve them. If you just let them sit on your counter, they’ll dry up and you can preserve them dried!

However there is a right and a wrong way to dry them to avoid issues like mold and loss of flavour and medicinal properties. And there are more ways than just drying to preserve herbs for year-round use.

The method of preservation I choose depends on what type of herbs I’m preserving. For example, I dry almost all of our oregano because we use it most in its dried form. We add dried oregano to pizzas, pastas, meats and veggies.

However, I tend to freeze chives and parsley. I prefer to enjoy these herbs fresh, and freezing them preserves them in a form that’s as close to their natural state as possible.

It just depends on what herbs I’m preserving and how I intend on using them later. So, I do have to be intentional and think ahead about ways to preserve my herbs so that nothing goes to waste.

There are actually a surprising number of ways to preserve herbs. If you have your own favourite methods or recipes that aren’t mentioned, here, please add them in the comments below! But for now, here are a few of my favourite ways to preserve herbs out of our garden to enjoy all year long.

 

Watch: How we’re getting a head start on preserving season with these easy herb recipes

 

Four ways to preserve herbs

* Be sure to wash herbs first to remove any bugs or dirt, then pat dry before continuing with the following preservation methods.

Related: 8 Ways to Preserve Food At Home

 

Springtime is when your herbs are the most tender which makes it the best time to preserve them. Here are 4 ways to preserve herbs at home so you can enjoy them all year long! #preservingherbs #howtopreserveherbsfromthegarden #herbrecipes

1. Drying herbs

Drying is probably the most obvious and familiar of all preservation methods when it comes to herbs. Pretty much any herb can be dried and then used for culinary purposes, homemade herbal tea, medicinal preparations and infusions, and adding to homemade bath and beauty products.

But there are right and wrong ways to preserve herbs when drying them.

 

Hang herbs to dry

The easiest and most low-maintenance way to preserve herbs is by hanging them upside down to dry. All you need to do is give them a wash and pat them dry, then bundle handfuls of herbs together and secure with an elastic or some twine and then hang to dry in a well-ventilated area out of direct sunlight. Once the herbs are dry, remove the leaves and/or flowers from the stems and store in jars in your pantry. 

It’s important to hang them upside down when drying because doing so helps to concentrate and preserve the essential oils in the leaves, which preserves the flavour and medicinal properties of the herb.

 

Dry herbs on a screen or in a dehydrator

You can also lay herbs out on screens or use a dehydrator to dry them. Just make sure that whatever you do you spread them out so that they’re well ventilated because if any moisture gets trapped in the leaves your herbs may start to mold and you’ll have to discard them.

Do not crumble or grind up the leaves! Remove them from the stems but keep the leaves and flower buds whole whenever possible. This will help to preserve the essential oils as well because it reduces the amount of surface area that oils can escape from.

When it comes time to use your herbs, at that point go ahead and grind or break them up as small as you need them, right before using.

 

2. Freezing herbs

The next most popular (and easiest) ways to preserve herbs is to freeze them. There are a few ways to freeze herbs, from freezing them just as they are (yup, you can just chop ‘em up and throw ‘em in Mason jars or freezer bags), to making pesto and a bunch of options in between.

Here are some of my favourite ways to preserve herbs for the freezer:

 

Chop and freeze

I like to chop up tender herbs like parsley, chives, dill, basil and green onions and toss them in a freezer bag as-is. This method preserves them as close to their natural state as possible. I then add them to soups, stews, sauces, eggs and more throughout the year. 

 

Learn how to grow basil from seed, how to maximize your harvest and how to preserve basil in ice cube trays to use in your kitchen all year long.

Freeze in ice cube trays

Many people like to freeze herbs in ice cube trays. They fill their ice cube trays with herbs (tender herbs like basil and parsley are popular choices) and then cover with water or oil (usually olive oil). Then add those herb cubes to all sorts of dishes throughout the year.

I used to use this method to preserve basil, but now I usually just chop and freeze basil or use it to make pesto, which brings me to my next point…

 

Make pesto 

Basil is the most common herb for making traditional pesto, but pesto can be made with any tender herb or leafy green. Why not make parsley pesto or a mixed herb pesto with parsley, basil and chives? I also like to make arugula pesto, radish top pesto and even garlic scape pesto (especially garlic scape pesto!!) Then place pesto in jars, ice cube trays or freezer bags and pop ‘em in the freezer until you need them!

 

This homemade herb butter is versatile and easy to make. Plus, it's a fantastic way to preserve your fresh summer herbs to enjoy all year long! #herbbutter #compoundbutter

Make compound butter

This is another one of my favourite ways to preserve herbs. All you need to do is chop up some fresh herbs and mix them with softened butter, then roll into a log and wrap with plastic wrap and store in the freezer until ready to use.

You can use any herbs or combination of herbs you want, but my personal favourites are garlic butter with chives, rosemary, garlic and thyme butter (this is my favourite to use over roasted vegetables in the winter), and parsley, chives and mint (so yummy to roll corn in, spread on biscuits or add to eggs!) 

Click here to get the full recipe and freezing instructions as well as more herb combos for making your own compound butter.

 

Make freezer meals

This preservation method is often overlooked, but you can always use your herbs and produce to actually make meals and then freeze them for later. Use basil and oregano on homemade pizza or add herbs to homemade lasagna and then freeze, unbaked for a quick meal later. Or add to soups, stews, broths and sauces and freeze.

 

Springtime is when your herbs are the most tender which makes it the best time to preserve them. Here are 4 ways to preserve herbs at home so you can enjoy them all year long! #preservingherbs #howtopreserveherbsfromthegarden #herbrecipes

3. Preserving herbs in salt (or sugar!)

One of the oft-overlooked ways to preserve herbs is by using salt. Salt has been used to preserve food for millennia because it’s excellent at dehydrating food and protecting it from bad germs. And it’s delicious too;)

You can either rough chop your herbs and then put them in a jar and cover/mix them with salt, or you can blend the herbs and salt together in a food processor and then lay the mixture out to dry on a tray or in a dehydrator, then blend again (it will clump together) and store the dried, blended herb salt in a jar in your pantry.

You can also preserve herbs in sugar using the same method as the salt, however I’ve found that if there’s any moisture left in the herbs at all, the sugar draws it out and can turn syrupy. In fact, this is exactly how I make my tree tip syrup in the spring! 

When preserving herbs in sugar, either place chopped or whole herbs in the sugar or blend up and spread out to dry and then blend again and place in jars to store. However, make sure herbs are completely dry before placing the lid on your jar so that any moisture can evaporate and escape. Mint, lemon balm and lavender are all good candidates for herbed sugar.

 

Springtime is when your herbs are the most tender which makes it the best time to preserve them. Here are 4 ways to preserve herbs at home so you can enjoy them all year long! #preservingherbs #howtopreserveherbsfromthegarden #herbrecipes

4. Making herbal infusions

My last way to preserve herbs and also preserve the flavour and medicinal properties of them is by making an infusion. 

An infusion simply means you’re infusing some sort of liquid solvent with herbs (in other words, you’re extracting the properties of the herbs using a liquid solvent). 

You can use any edible or medicinal herbs to make an infusion, and you can use just about any liquid solvent to extract the properties from the herbs, including alcohol, honey, vinegar, oil (there is a danger of botulism when preserving herbs in oil so use caution), or even water! Yup. The herbal tea you drink every night is an infusion:)

I like to make mint and lemon balm syrup by infusing a homemade syrup (made with sugar and water) with lemon balm and mint. Check out this video to see how I do it. (I’ll also demonstrate a bunch of my other favourite ways to preserve herbs!)

I also like to make all sorts of culinary and medicinal infusions like peppermint extract, thyme-infused honey, fire cider and elderberry syrup.

 

What are your favourite ways to preserve herbs??

Surely there are more ways to preserve herbs that I’ve missed here! I’d love to know what your favourite ways are to preserve herbs and how you use them after! Let me know in the comments below 🙂

For more in-depth information on growing and using herbs for culinary or medicinal purposes, be sure to check out the current (May 2021) issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine: the Herb Garden issue.

*** Subscribe here for FREE and get the latest issue delivered right to your inbox! ***

If you’re reading this after May 2021, you can still subscribe to get the latest issue free, or become a member for just $7.99/year and get access to all past issues, including the Herb Garden issue (May 2021), the Herbal Medicine issue (November 2019) and so much more!

Become a member and get unlimited access to our entire library of issues!

Wishing you homemade, homegrown, homestead happiness 🙂

 

 

 


CATEGORIES
HOMESTEADING
REAL FOOD
NATURAL LIVING

1 Comment

  1. Devine Panashe

    Nice we helped

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

ABOUT ANNA
Hi! I’m Anna, and I’m a city girl turned modern homesteader who’s passionate about growing, cooking and preserving real food at home, creating my own herbal medicine and all-natural home and body care products, and working toward a simpler, more sustainable and self-sufficient life each and every day. 
You Might Also Like
What to Stock In A Home Apothecary

What to Stock In A Home Apothecary

* This article contains affiliate links. For more information, please read my Affiliate Disclosure.   Having a home apothecary full of medicinal herbs, tinctures and infusions of all kinds is many a homesteader’s dream! In fact, as far as goals and dreams...

read more

What does it really mean to be self-reliant?

What does it really mean to be self-reliant?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it really means to be “self-reliant.”  We talk a lot about self-reliance (or self-sufficiency) in the homesteading community, and outwardly it may seem as if the goal of “achieving” self-reliance is what ultimately...

read more

40 years on this Earth.
11 years together.
8 years married.
6 babies, one living, 4 in heaven and one more hopefully on the way.
20 fur (and feather) babies in our time together.
5 homes (plus a couple tents).
6 countries.
About 5,000 pounds of homegrown tomatoes, among other things;)
Too many good times to count.
Enough hardships to shape our characters.
One beautiful life together.

To my smart, talented, strong, kind, selfless, handsome amazing husband… The day I met you everything changed for the better. Sure, we’ve weathered some storms, but knowing I always have you to turn to has helped me through my darkest hours. The laughs, deep conversations, goals, dreams and unconditional love we share make each day worth living. And the family, home and life we’ve created together are more than I could have ever hoped for.

Happy 40th birthday to my one and only @thehumblehandyman. I can’t imagine doing life with anyone else. ❤️
...

66 8

And then there were 3 😔

Despite fending off an eagle attack the other day, a sneaky raccoon got into the chicken run early this morning and took out one of our girls.

Having animals die is definitely the hardest part of homesteading, but it’s a reality of this lifestyle that everyone must come to terms with sooner or later.

While we care for our chickens and want to give them the best life possible while they’re here, we understand that they’re livestock, not pets, and that we’re not the only creatures who see them as a food source.

Luckily we have a new flock of up-and-comers who will be ready to lay in a few months. Until then, egg production around here is gonna be pretty scarce.
...

19 2

So this is 35…

I decided to read my horoscope today (since it’s my birthday and all). I don’t really buy into the horoscope predictions, but I do think there’s something to be said for the personality traits we’re born with when the stars are aligned just so. Here are a few snippets that I found to be almost eerily on point:

“Tauruses born on May 18 are characterized by love of freedom and independence…They possess extraordinary creative energy, and they are never without an important cause to champion. They enjoy taking risks, but only when they believe the risk really matters.

As a rule, most decided early in life what they wanted to do and are not likely to deviate from that path. Their independent spirit makes them ideally suited to careers where they are their own boss, or are at least autonomous within a larger structure.

May 18 people want to make it on their own. No matter how successful they become, they never forget their roots and may even draw upon them for inspiration.”

Every year on my birthday I reflect on where I’m at, where I’m headed and where I’ve come from, and all I can say is that each year I’m only more grateful to be living life on my own terms, doing what I love most next to the people I love more than anything else in the world.

I’ll never forget where I came from and I’ll never have any regrets, because I wouldn’t be right where I am now without all of the experiences -good, bad or otherwise- that I’ve had along the way.

I knew when I was a little girl that I wanted to be a writer and a content creator. Homesteading came a little later in life, but when I knew, I knew.

I hope to be doing what I love and sharing it with you all for the next 35 years too! (Well, actually, if I’m being honest, I’d like to retire and throw my phone in the river long before that;) But until that day comes, thanks for being here to celebrate life with me today and every day. Cheers to another turn around the sun 🍻
...

58 10

My daughter stayed overnight at her grandma’s last night, and this morning when I talked to my mom she said “Evelyn told me she’s never been to the doctor before.”

Proudly, I replied “no, she hasn’t, because she’s never needed to.” This is thanks in large part to the fact that we keep a well stocked natural medicine cabinet at home and do our best to treat everyday illnesses and ailments ourselves.

Having a well-stocked home apothecary (and the know-how to use herbal and natural medicine at home) is yet another important piece of the self-sufficiency puzzle, and one that we’re working on a lot right now, both in our home and in my membership program, the Society of Self-Reliance.

If herbal medicine and building a home apothecary is on your to-do list as well, I’ve got some great tips and a printable checklist of items you’ll want to start stocking up on now so you’re prepared to make all sorts of medicinal preparations in time for cold and flu season later this year.

This is also a great time to plant certain medicinal herbs so that you’ve got a personal, sustainable supply of herbal medicine at home, because who knows what supply chain issues are gonna hit next!

To help make building and stocking your home apothecary or natural medicine cabinet a little easier, I compiled a list of all the ingredients I like to keep on hand for making my own medicinal preparations, as well as a suggested list of herbs to start growing or stocking up on, and some other great resources to help you get started preparing and using your own herbal medicine at home.

Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead to read the full article and download the checklist, or go to https://thehouseandhomestead.com/stock-a-home-apothecary/
...

34 1

Stinging nettles are one of my favourite things to forage for in early spring. They’re ready to harvest well before just about anything is ready in our garden, and they’re a superfood as well as a medicinal plant packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, B, C & K, calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and iron, plus they’re super high in protein.

As a medicinal plant, nettles are a natural antihistamine and can help with season allergies, they have properties that reduce inflammation and especially joint inflammation and arthritis, they can be used to treat of urinary tract infections and enlarged prostate symptoms, the e been shown to lower blood pressure and control blood sugar and more!

Some people even swear by harvesting stinging nettles with their bare hands as the sting itself is said to help with muscle and joint pain/arthritis!

I, however, am not that brave. I definitely recommend wearing gloves, long sleeves, long pants and boots when harvesting stinging nettles! But the good news is that once you cook or dry the nettles, they no longer sting you. My favourite way to prepare them is to dry them and enjoy them as a herbal tea! But they’re good sautéed in stir fry or added to soups (in place of spinach or Kale) too. Whatever you do, just don’t put them fresh into a salad!

Stinging nettles grow wild all over North America (as well as other places), and spring is the best time to forage for them. To learn how to safely identify them, harvest them and prepare/preserve them, check out the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead or go to https://thehouseandhomestead.com/harvest-and-use-stinging-nettles/

Have you ever foraged for stinging nettle before?
...

89 14

If you're looking to increase production in your own home garden, you know how important bees and other pollinators are to your overall yield.⁠

Honeybees get a lot of the glory, and for good reason: It's said that honeybees alone are responsible for pollinating 80% of our fruits and vegetables! Not to mention, they make honey... Sweet, glorious, highly nutritious and DELICIOUS honey!⁠

In this day and age of global food shortages, we need to do whatever we can to help increase food production at home and abroad, and helping honeybees is one of the best ways to do just that.⁠

Click the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead or go to https://thehouseandhomestead.com/3-easy-ways-to-help-save-the-bees/ to learn what you can do at home to help save the bees, and the many, MANY reasons why it matters!⁠
...

25 1

I don't know about you, but around here spring officially marks the beginning of what we call "busy season."⁠

I always remind myself, though, that the payoff from the work we put in at this time of year is so totally worth the extra elbow grease and long hours.⁠

The seeds we sow now will provide us with food and medicine to stock our pantry and apothecary with in the summer and fall.⁠

The projects we start now will (hopefully) be finished and ready to serve us later in the year.⁠

And the deep cleaning and organizing we do now in our homes will set the stage and the tone for the rest of the season.⁠

Personally, I don't operate very well in a disorganized, messy or dirty environment. Whether I'm working or just relaxing, if my home is in disarray I feel like I can't fully concentrate on or enjoy whatever I'm doing.⁠

For most of the year this means sticking to a daily routine of tidying up and light cleaning when necessary. But in the spring, I like to take a few days to deep clean our home so that the rest of the season runs smoother; So that when I'm in the thick of gardening and harvesting and preserving season, I'm not also contending with dirt and stains and pine needles from Christmas!⁠

That being said, I don't like to use any commercially produced chemical cleaners, so I always make sure to keep a few natural ingredients on hand to get the job done.⁠

Over the years I've tried a lot of store-bought "natural" cleaners, and honestly I haven't been impressed with most of them. In fact, I find some white vinegar, baking soda, dish soap, water and a few essential oils are all I really need to clean most of my house!⁠

If the spring cleaning bug has bit you too, be sure to check out my DIY Spring Cleaning Recipes via the link in my bio. Every recipe is made with simple, natural ingredients that you probably have on hand already. I also like to add essential oils to my cleaning products for their scent and natural cleaning and disinfecting power, but you can omit them if you like:)⁠

Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead or go to https://thehouseandhomestead.com/spring-cleaning-recipes/
...

26 0

If there's one thing we should all be doing to hedge against looming food shortages and inflation right now, it's growing some of our own food at home.⁠

I've been preaching the many benefits of homegrown food for years now... Long before any of the madness we're currently experiencing took hold.⁠

A couple years ago when I launched my first gardening course, I mentioned in my sales video that we were just one emergency situation away from grocery store shelves being cleared out entirely. Within two weeks of that video, the pandemic hit, and the rest is history.⁠

The fact is, whether you're worried about shortages, the skyrocketing price of EVERYTHING, or you simply want to eat better, healthier foods free from GMOs and chemical sprays, learning how to grow even a little bit of your own organic food at home puts power and food security back in your hands.⁠

That's exactly why I’ve teamed up with 16+ other speakers for the Backyard Vegetable Gardener's Summit: A free, 3-day online event where you can learn how to get started or get better at growing food and creating your own personal grocery store, right in your own backyard!⁠

Here are just a few of the presentations coming up this week:⁠

🌱 7 Ways To Maximize Space In Your Urban Garden⁠
🌱 Creating a Personal Seed Bank⁠
🌱 How to Generate Income From Your Garden⁠
🌱 Easy Ways to Quickly Improve Your Garden Soil⁠
🌱 Indoor Container Gardening⁠
🌱 Growing Turmeric & Ginger at Home⁠
🌱 How to Use Succession Planting for Higher Yields⁠

And more!⁠

Plus, don't miss my masterclass where I teach you everything you need to know to grow a BUMPER CROP OF TOMATOES in your backyard! 🍅🍅🍅⁠

From starting your seeds to planting out and caring for your tomato plants all season long, I'll show you the exact method we use to grow hundreds of pounds of tomatoes at home for fresh eating and preserving each year.⁠

The summit officially starts TODAY! If you haven't registered yet, click the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead or go to https://thehouseandhomestead.com/bvgs to save your seat and start watching and learning right away!
...

83 3

“When I think of self-reliance, I think of any ability to rely less on ‘the system.’”

I sat down with Ashley Constance from @dirtypawshomestead and the @alittleselfreliant podcast to talk about what it means to be self-reliant, if it’s even possible to be 100% self-reliant and why it’s a goal worth striving for even if complete and total self-reliance isn’t possible.

Be sure to check out the full interview in the latest issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine!

Subscribe @ modernhomesteadingnmagazine.com

I’d love to know, what are you currently doing to become a little (more) self-reliant? Let me know in the comments!👇
...

27 2
This error message is only visible to WordPress admins
There has been a problem with your Instagram Feed.

© The House & Homestead | All Rights Reserved | Legal

[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]