How to Store Herbs? Part I

Storing herbs is the best way to use them for a longer period without changing their flavor. There are basically 4 principal methods for storing herbs properly for longer duration. If stored properly, you can enjoy the flavor of your favorite herbs even in off-season.

Today you got a large bunches of fresh herbs in a very low price or your garden herbs are ready for harvesting. But now you don’t know how to store herbs for long without loosing their taste and aroma. Drying herbs is the best and simple way to store your fresh herbs.

Basically there are 3 primary methods for drying herbs: Hanging, Freezing, Drying and Steeping in oil. Each method is distinct for other method and has its own benefits. Before storing your favorite herb there are few fundamental steps need to be followed before each storing method.

Basic Steps before Storing Herbs:

Before selecting your method to store herbs there are few basic steps you need to follow. Following are the basic steps:

  • If you are using your garden fresh herbs then be careful while harvesting them. For herbs which can stand cold temperatures of winter season then you should harvest them at the base of the plant.
  • For herbs which cannot withstand low temperatures you can pull them out from the soil. Remember that the leaves used for storing should have long stems.
  • Wash the herbs with clean water so as to remove all the dirt and soil particles. Pat dry the washed herbs with the help of a kitchen towel.

After following the basic steps you can select any of the storing method according to your convenience.

How to Store Herbs?

For storing herbs, one of the following methods can be used:

Hanging Method:

  • Tie a bunch of herbs near the top of the stems; don’t forget to remove the lower leaves from the stem. A bunch should not contain more than 8-10 stems as this will be helpful in proper aeration.
  • Select a place which is properly ventilated but dark, dry and warm. The ideal temperature for drying the herbs would be 20ºC/68ºF. You can even tie pierced paper lunch bags over each bunch of the herbs. This would be helpful in keeping your bunches away from dust particles.
  • Check the condition of the herbs every second day. Normally herbs take 2-3 weeks to dry completely but thick stemmed herbs take longer time. Check whether the leaves are crumbly by crushing a leaf between your 2 fingers. If they are crumbly dry then its time to take them down.
  • Carefully remove the leaves and store them in an airtight container or bottle. You can even store dried leaves in crushed or grinded form. Don’t forget to remove foreign particle, woody pieces or improperly dried part.
  • Lastly label the container and don’t forget to put the date of storing it. You can easily store the herb for at least 1 year.

Steeping in Oil Method:

  • Following the basic steps harvest and clean the herbs you desire to store in oil.
  • Then select the oil in which you want to store the herbs. Generally olive oil is used for this task but you can use other oil of you choice.
  • You can either keep the leaves intact with stem or you can remove them, it’s totally your wish. If you want add flavor to the oil then you can keep the stems. Place the leaves in the oil bottle and refrigerate it.
  • Especially in warmer season keep don’t forget them to refrigerate it. You can use this preparation for 6 months.

The other 2 storing methods are described in: How to Store Herbs? Part II