Storing herbs: a beginner’s guide
It’s nice to pluck a few fresh leaves from this or that herb to toss into whatever is cooking at the moment, but it’s infinitely better to harvest in larger quantities and create your own, all-natural spice rack. Herbs are simple, easily grown, and incredibly useful plants that thrive growing in your backyard garden, in containers on the patio, or indoors by a windowsill. As it turns out, it is just as easy to store and dry herbs as it is to grow them! Once you’ve mastered the art of herb storing, you can mix and match to create your own special seasoning mixes, create uniquely delicious meals, and showcase your gardening prowess by gifting herbs to friends and neighbours.
Storing fresh herbs tends to be more of a short-term endeavour. Knowing what to do comes in handy when you find you’ve harvested too much coriander and don’t want to let it wilt.
• Tie sprigs of freshly harvested herbs together like a miniature bouquet and stick them in a glass of water on your kitchen counter, just like you would flowers. This will keep them fresh for a few extra days.
• Rinse harvested herbs, pat dry, and store in the crispy-cold vegetable drawer of your refrigerator.
• For any longer than a week, put herbs in a plastic bag in the freezer. Make sure that everything is dry beforehand and try to freeze in a single layer. If the herbs are in a big heap they’ll freeze into a big block.
• Have some tightly-sealing jars on hand, the kind used for canning fruits and vegetables. Vacuum-sealable jars can keep fresh herbs usable for over a year. Normal canning jars can keep the fresh flavour sealed in for almost a year!
• A unique storage option is to freeze them into tiny ice cubes. Fill the cubes of an ice tray halfway with water, toss a tablespoon or two of fresh herbs into each cube, and let this freeze. Once frozen, fill the rest of the tray with water and allow it to freeze fully. This method prevents herbs from floating to the top of the cubes and getting freezer-burned. Now you have pre-measured rations of herbs that you can simply toss into the pot while cooking!