Preserving Herbs for Best Flavor

| 7/9/2012 12:11:00 PM

Tags: preserving culinary herbs, freeze herbs, dry herbs, store herbs, herbs,

Preserving HerbsWhat’s the best way to preserve culinary herbs? 

It’s best to dry herbs that have pronounced flavors and tough or needle-like leaves — such as rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano, lavender, mint and bay. Freeze herbs with more subtle flavors and tender leaves — such as parsley, cilantro and chervil. Preserving basil is the exception: It dries well, but its flavor is brighter if frozen.

For best flavor, harvest herbs just before they bloom, which is when their essential oils are at the highest level. To dry, fasten together small bunches of stems with twine or a rubber band, and then hang them upside down in a warm, dry place. Tie the bundles tightly, because the stems will shrink as they dry. When the leaves become brittle, strip them from the stems and store them in jars. Label and date the jars.

Follow these steps to preserve basil and other herbs by freezing: Coarsely chop the leaves and then pack them loosely in ice cube trays. Add water and freeze. When the cubes have frozen, remove them from the trays and store them in plastic freezer bags for up to three months. Add the cubes to sauces or soups for summertime flavor. Or, gently purée the herbs along with a small amount of olive oil (one-quarter cup oil to 1 cup of leaves) and then freeze the paste in a plastic freezer bag. Cut off the amount of paste you need to flavor soups, sauces, dressings or marinades.

Photo by Nate Skow

Vicki Mattern is a contributing editor for MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine, book editor and freelance magazine writer. She has edited or co-authored seven books on gardening, and lives and works from her home in northwestern Montana. You can find Vicki on .

samy steav
9/17/2012 5:57:16 AM

Yes we preserve herbs then its flavor definitely gone changed which is nice. And important thing is the life of herbs is increased. Drying herbs may be increased the quality of herbs...

9/7/2012 3:24:00 PM

Armenian cucumber is a variety of cantaloupe. When it's eaten young it tastes like cucumber, when ripened it tastes like cantaloupe. The fatter ones are merely ripened. You want to eat them green.

jean taylor
9/7/2012 6:37:08 AM

Have a volunteer in this year's garden from unauthorized acorn x patty pan hanky-panky that must've been going on right under our noses last year! I've never had summer & winter squash cross, & the fruit looks confused, too, at this point!

donna soszynski-lauter
9/1/2012 12:27:13 PM

I use a dehydrator now...the best dried herbs ever especially in the humid area I live in...where hanging and drying is slow and at times ruins the herbs.

kelly tausanovitch
8/30/2012 5:14:56 PM

There are $20.00 dryers that work really well. I dry a ton of herbs and the dryer is a time saver. Yes, its plastic. On top of a wood stove works too. Having a source of dry heat is helpful. If I leave mine dry and hanging, more goes bad or rots before it drys. Is that other people's experience in the east?

jim bolton
8/13/2012 12:38:27 PM

I had pumpkins and watermelon cross pollinate. What a learning experience. (Laugh!)

8/12/2012 8:47:02 PM

I thought only varieties of the same vegetable can cross-pollinate, e.g. pattypan squash x crookneck squash, or honeydew x cantaloupe....NOT squash x cantaloupe....

donna henke
8/2/2012 5:30:46 AM

Can cukes & cantaloup cross-pollinate? Have Armenian cukes & cantaloup that came up volunteer in garden. Cukes have been coming up for several yrs. Today I found a couple of fatter 'cukes', but are yellow, smell like cantaloup, & taste like cross between the 2. Is ribbed like cukes. Thanks!

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