Preserving herbs for later

bay leavesSo you want to preserve herbs, either because you’re growing them yourself and want to keep some for a rainy day or because you need something for a recipe but don’t need as much as you have bought.

It is pretty easy to do and if it’s self grown produce, it can make you feel pretty proud that you have a store of your own herbs!

 

Bay leaves

Can be used to keep pantry moths at bay, but are also a great addition to soups and casseroles. Bay trees are hardy and can be easily purchased from most nurseries. You can use bay leaves fresh and directly from the tree or they can be dried and used at a later date.

To dry, remove whole branch or individual leaves from tree. Place in cool, dry, dark location to allow to dry completely. Once dried (around 2 weeks) place into an airtight jar for use.

Rosemary

This woody herb is a classic to combine with lamb. Easy to grow, and quite hardy, it is also often found in parks and squeezing out between neighbourhood fences. It’s easy to snip some off a local plant on an afternoon walk and take home to use later.

To preserve rosemary, you can dry this in sprigs in a dark, dry, cool environment. You can leave this as a sprig or you can pull off the leaves and store in a clean dry airtight jar. You can also add some dried rosemary to olive oil to infuse some of the flavour into the oil.

Chili

Chili can be dried or frozen. Drying can sometimes result in samples going mouldy, so isn’t always ideal. But dried chili seeds can be used to grow plants if you don’t wish to use these for cooking.

To freeze- wash and seal in a ziplock bag and then freeze.

Green herbs – basil, coriander, parsley, mint

These herbs don’t dry very well. Ultimately these really are best if used fresh, but if you have leftovers rinse them, place in ziplock bags and freeze. This will result in the herbs becoming “mushy” when defrosted, but if using in a dish to add flavour, this is fine. I do not recommend that you use these as garnish etc, as they taste good, but defrosted herbs are ugly!

Thyme

Thyme is a woody herb like rosemary, as such it can be dried in a similar manner. Alternatively, it can also be frozen. As it is a woody it holds its shape much better than green herbs when defrosted.

Ginger

Seal in a ziplock bag and freeze. When used frozen it is actually easier to grate for recipes.

Kaffir lime leaves

I’d suggest freezing these over drying.

Lemon, lime or orange

Too many lemons or only need to use half a lime? You can freeze the juice for use later or cut into halves and freeze. Defrost the half fruit in the microwave and juice as normal, or zest skin while fruit is frozen (too hard to do once defrosted as it loses its structural integrity).