“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking, you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”
– Julia Child
Growing your own veggies & herbs is a such blessing! Although having the ability to preserve them is a wonderful use of what you’ve grown & harvested. It helps save a ton of money as herbs can be very expensive, especially organic brands. Whether or not you garden organically, your home grown herbs will taste remarkably richer than any purchased from the store.
The following how-to can be used with just about any herbs you grow. Here are a few processes I want to share with all of you.
Pro tip: You don’t have to wait until the fall to preserve your delicious herbs, you can start early in the spring and work at it all season long!
As I mentioned there are a few ways to dry your herbs. Let’s look at each one.
Pro tip: You can have herbs all year in cold weather states. In the spring when you are purchasing your seeds, save a few to plant in late summer in pots. You can keep these in your kitchen all winter long.
Pro Tip: De-stemming your herb leaves from the stem is essential for the highest quality finished product. You can see in these photo’s the original stem of basil, then plucking each leaf off. The stems will not dry well and are often times stringy.
For recipes using all your wonderful dried herbs, check out my blog post here: https://wordpress.com/post/fordragonfliesandme.com/2829
Some seeds do not have a long shelf life when kept at room temperature. If you keep the seeds in your freezer they will have a better chance of germinating.
1. Using a dehydrator. Your dehydrator will come with instructions and is very easy to use. You can use a dehydrator for all types of herbs as well as fruit! You can even make fruit roll ups!
2. Place herbs on a cookie sheet and dry in your oven. After you’ve de-stemmed the leaves, place them on a cookie sheet and bake in a 250 degree oven until dry. The length of time will be determined by the size of the leaves.
For example, thyme and oregano leaves will be quicker than basil or parsley as their leaves are larger
Place leaves in a single layer on the cookie sheet so they are not overlapping each other. You do not need to turn the leaves. Check every 15 to 20 minutes.
3. Hanging your herbs to dry in a shady spot works too! You can bundle your herbs with a rubber band and hang them to dry. This generally takes a bit longer to dry as the herbs are more densely packed.
Pro tip: Don’t hang these in a sunny window as the sun will fade the color of the leaves.
Once the leaves are crumbly to the touch, remove them from the cookie sheet into a shallow bowl; gently crumble the leaves, do not crumble so hard that they become dusty. Think about how herbs look purchased from the store.
4. Besides drying your herbs, you can also freeze some of them. I have found that chives and parsley both freeze well. Most others will turn black and slimy.
Storage: Once you have dried your herbs, you can store them in glass jars with tight fitting lids, freezer storage bags or I like to use half pint jars with cute labels.
Freeze your pesto for use year round! We use pesto for so many recipes. I will make a large batch when my basil and parsley are at their best and then freeze them in half pint jars as these are equivalent to 1 cup which most recipes call for. You can also freeze them in ice cube trays and toss in a freezer bag.
Pro tip: Remember to leave at least an inch headspace when freezing!
Herb infused oils can be rather expensive even though they are so easy to make! Simply pack 2 cups of most any fresh culinary herb with 1/2 cup canola or safflower oil.
Pro tip: Olive oil can have a strong taste so I generally only use a few herbs with it. Basil, Thyme, & oregano. I also love to add fresh minced garlic with these. Soooo yummy!
Bonus Herb Salt & Salt Free Recipes
Here are some of my yummy herb salts-less recipes!
If you are trying to watch your salt intake, here a some great salt substitutes that the whole family will enjoy and they won’t even miss the salt!
For each recipe, combine all ingredients into a bowl and mix thoroughly I even use a mini food processor. Once blended, store each one in a separate airtight container; shake before using, contents will probably settle.
Salt-less Herb Blend
5 tsp. onion powder
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. celery salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
Combine all and store in an airtight container. Great on fish & chicken!
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
5 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. parsley
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. pepper
Combine all and store in an airtight container. Great in ground beef when making goulash!
Basic Herb Salt
1 cup sea salt
1 Tbsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. rosemary
2 Tbsp. thyme
1/4 cup parsley
2 Tbsp. tarragon
2 Tbsp. dill week
2 Tbsp. paprika
1/4 cup basil
Blend together in a food processor; store in an airtight container. Great for grilling or putting on pork or beef roasts!
All of these are great Great sprinkled on burger patties before grilling and really adds something special to ground beef when fried.
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