While the herbs from your herb garden are best used fresh, there is always more than you can use in one season. Homegrown herbs are a terrific way to punch up the flavors you create in your kitchen. Preserving homegrown herbs isn’t difficult if you know how to do it right. Here are five techniques for preserving fresh herbs so you can enjoy their flavor all winter.
Techniques for preserving the flavors of herb garden
1. Air Drying
Probably the easiest way of preserving homegrown herbs, air drying requires very little effort and doesn’t take up much room. There’s also no special equipment required. Though not all herbs dry well, many do. Try oregano, tarragon, parsley, thyme, rosemary and sweet marjoram.
2. Using A Dehydrator
I find that herbs dried in a dehydrator have a slightly more intense flavor than those dried via air drying. I believe that because the drying process takes place in a matter of hours, rather than a matter of weeks, the flavorful oils in the leaves retain a little more of their integrity. If you have a food dehydrator, drying herbs is easy.
3. Oven Drying
If you don’t have a dehydrator but you’re interested in preserving homegrown herbs in a quick fashion, oven drying might be for you. Spread fresh cut herb leaves in a single layer on parchment-lined cookie sheets and put them into an oven preheated to 170 degrees. To improve air circulation while your herbs are drying, leave the oven door ajar.
4. Microwave Drying
Drying herbs in the microwave take even less time than the oven or dehydrator. This technique, however, doesn’t work with all herbs. I find it works well for mint and oregano, but in my experience, it doesn’t work well for chives, dill or basil.
When it comes to preserving homegrown herbs, some types taste better from the freezer than they do when dry. For example, I much prefer frozen parsley to dried parsley. The same goes for chives, dill, and cilantro. Though the leaves develop a dark color in the freezer, the intense herb flavor is more preserved when freezing certain herbs.
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