There are many methods to preserve herbs, from freezing to drying. Learning the easiest and best ways to preserve herbs will allow you to enjoy your herb harvest even longer. Once preserved, those herbs can be used for a multitude of uses.
The 4 methods below are alternatives to simply drying herbs and placing them into jars.
4 Ways to Preserve Herbs on the Homestead
Freezing herbs is an extremely easy way to preserve herbs. Simply spread clean, dry herbs over a baking sheet, chopping into small pieces as you go. Place the baking sheet into the freezer until the herb pieces are frozen. Once frozen, place the frozen herb pieces in a small container in the freezer. These last for months.
Another method is to snip herbs into small pieces and freeze them in ice cube trays filled 3/4 with water. The following day top off each cube with water to allow the pieces that floated to the top of the cube before being frozen to get covered. Once frozen simply pop out the cubes and place in baggies in the freezer. These cubes can be used in soups, sauces, and stews.
You can also freeze herbs in your favorite oils. I prefer olive oil, but any oil can be used.
2. Herb Flavored Butters
A second method of preserving herbs is to make a herb-flavored butter. This can be easily done by mincing one or a mix of herbs into softened homemade butter. Once the herbs and butter are mixed simply shape the butter into a log and freeze.
These logs can be sliced off and used in sauces, as a base when frying, or simply as butter for your toast or muffins. Check out Taste of Home for some delicious herb butter recipes.
Common herbs used for butter include:
3. Herb Infused Oils
A mild olive oil with herbs infused into it makes a great flavored oil for cooking. When using this method you must thoroughly dry your herbs before blending into the olive oil. This is because oil seals out the air so adding any moisture from herbs that are not thoroughly dried can lead to botulism. A dehydrator can stop any moisture problems when drying herbs for this method. Drying thoroughly inside the oven also works too.
A good measurement for this method is to mix 2 tablespoons of dried minced herbs per 2 cups of olive oil or another cold-pressed oil of your choice. Try and use up the oil in a few weeks to avoid possible problems.
You can use any of the above-mentioned herbs or basically any herbs you commonly use.
4. Herb Flavored Vinegar
A delicious way to preserve herbs is to add them to vinegar. You can use apple cider vinegar for more robust herbs like rosemary and wine vinegar for milder herbs like lemon balm. You can make your own vinegar or purchase commercial vinegar for this method. Simply mix fresh, clean, herbs (1/2 cup) into 2 cups of or more, depending on your taste, of vinegar.
Store the vinegar in a glass bottle with a cork stopper. Keep in mind that vinegar will eat through a metal lid so stay away from metal. Store sealed bottles in a dark closet at room temperature. The flavor will continue to strengthen over the next 4 to 6 weeks. The vinegar can be used in any recipe that calls for lemon juice or vinegar.
As you can see, herbs do not have to be dried and placed in spice jars anymore because there are other ways to preserve and use herbs on your homestead. Herb flavored butter and oils are a great addition to the homestead kitchen. How do you preserve your herbs on your homestead? For other resources on preserving herbs read this post. For specific information on growing, harvesting, and preserving ginger, click here. And for mint, click here.
For a great E-book packed with information on herb gardening from growing to harvesting and even using your herbs, check out my newest e-book, Herbs 101: Herb Gardening and Preserving for the Beginner.