Summer is coming to a close, and your herb garden is looking a bit worse for the wear. Never fear! You can conserve the last of your herbs for winter. All you need are a few ideas... and maybe a recipe or two!
You’ve bought dried herbs before… but have you ever considered drying your own? There are two different methods for drying herbs. The first is best for herbs that are already fairly dry. Things like dill, rosemary, thyme and bay leaves can easily be air-dried.
Try to harvest your herbs mid-morning, so that they’re dry. Gather the stems into bundles, which you can secure with a rubber band. Punch a few holes in a paper bag, and put it over the herbs, attaching it at the stems. Use one bag per type of herb. Hang your bags upside down in a warm, dry room. Check on your herbs after two weeks. Once they’re dry, you can keep them in closed glass containers, as you do storebought herbs.
For damper herbs like basil and mint, it’s best to dry them in a dehydrator. If you try this method with these herbs, they may rot before they dry due to their moisture content. You can find a food dehydrator online. Once you've found one, you'll find tons of ways to use a dehydrator at home!
If you’re not ready to invest in a dehydrator, freezing moister herbs may be a better idea.
Herbs can be frozen in two ways. First, you can freeze the individual leaves. Spread them out on a baking sheet in a single layer, and freeze for at least 12 hours. When the herbs are frozen, you can transfer them to freezer bags.
For individual portions of herbs, you can freeze them in ice cube trays. Chop them roughly, and place the same amount of herb in each ice cube tray (about halfway up the space for the cube). Fill the tray with water the rest of the way to the top, and freeze. When the cubes are frozen, transfer them to freezer bags. The great thing about this method is that every time you need a serving of herb to flavor a recipe, all you have to do is drop the entire cube into the pot!
If you’ve frozen and dried your herbs and you still have leaves you don’t know what to do with, try a pesto! Here are some of our favorite pesto recipes from around the web. Remember: pesto doesn’t stop with basil!