Harvesting and Preserving Herbs

Parsley freezes particularly well and retains most of its bright green color when frozen.

Extending the Flavors of Herbs from Your Garden

It is hard to beat the savory tastes and bold scents of fresh herbs. Michigan winters make it difficult to have fresh herbs. However, preserving them is a great way to enjoy your favorite herbs until next spring. We have a good selection of the most popular herbs now available at the store.

The majority of herbs should be harvested in early morning when the oil responsible for their flavor and aroma are at their peak. Herbs grown for their foliage such as basil, should be harvested before they flower.

Gardeners who enjoy preserving herbs often cut back herbs such as parsley, basil, verbena, mint and tarragon to keep the plant producing and to extend their availability of fresh herbs. Cutting back herbs also enables you to harvest more leaves to preserve before the herb repeats its flowering cycle.

One of the easiest methods of preserving herbs is freezing.
Method 1:
•Harvest the freshest and healthiest leaves.
•Wash, if necessary, and pat completely dry with paper towels.
•Spread the individual leaves on a cookie sheet, cover and place sheet in the freezer. Freezing the leaves flat and individually will prevent them from freezing into a brick.
•When the leaves are frozen solid, place in airtight containers and return to the freezer.

Method 2:
•Harvest the freshest and healthiest leaves.
•Wash, if necessary, and pat completely dry with paper towels.
•Fill cubes of ice cube tray with chopped herbs.
•Fill the tray half full of water and place in freezer. (Part of herbs will be left uncovered due to cut herbs floating to the top of the cube.)
•Once the cubes have frozen, add additional water to completely cover the herbs.
•Place frozen cubes in plastic bags to store and remove as needed.

Preserving herbs by drying methods has been done for ages and continues to be a popular and effective method to have herbs during the winter months. Ample air circulation is important for drying herb bundles.

•Remove soil and roots from the plants, wash and pat dry the plants. Then spread the plants out on paper towels until completely dried. Remove any dead or damaged foliage.
•Next tie plant stems into bundles and hang upside down in a warm, dry and well ventilated place out of the sun.
•The bundles should be small and loosely tied to allow for good air circulation.
•Herbs are sufficiently dry when they are brittle and crumble easily.
•Store the full leaves in air tight container away from moisture and out of the light.
•To preserve the herb’s full flavor, avoid crushing the herb leaves until you are ready to use them. Many herbs can be stored for a year.

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