Here’s how you can store your fresh, in-season herbs for months

Herbs like peppermints, rosemary and thyme are available in abundance during the winter months. And having them fresh is indeed the healthiest and chemical and preservative-free way of consuming the herbs. But what about the season when they aren’t readily available? How about storing the fresh, in-season herbs at home for months altogether?

Ushakiran Sasodia, HOD Diet and Nutrition Dept at Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital, Mumbai help us in understanding the steps that will maximize the storage life of herbs for months, like keeping them away from light and moisture.

Step-by-step procedure for improving the lifespan of herbs and storing them:

  • For tender leafy herbs like basil and mint, freezing them tends to preserve their flavours better than drying.  There are three excellent methods for doing this:
    1. Paint the leaves with oil and store them flat in a resealable freezer bag.
    2. Chop up your herbs in a food processor or blender with a little bit of oil to form a paste. Wrap in wax paper and freeze.  Then, when you’re ready to use your preserved herbs, simply cut off however much you need and replace the rest back in the freezer.
    3. A clever way to freeze herbs without oil is to chop them up and drop the pieces to ice cube trays filled with water. When you’re ready to use them, simply pop out a cube or two and thaw your herbs as needed.
  • Use salt and sugar for homemade preparations. Use salt to preserve herbs like rosemary, tarragon, marjoram, and oregano.  Alternate layers of salt and whole leaves in a jar (or other resealable containers) pressing firmly between layers until the jar is full.  Alternately, add about 6 tablespoons of herbs to one cup of coarse ground salt in a blender and mix until well incorporated.  Store salted herbs in air-tight containers until ready to use.

Making an oily herb mixture and freezing it for months a good idea: The only thing to note is that with some herbs have a shorter shelf life when frozen in oil than in water (like garlic, for example), so that you can store for months and if you freeze them, pop them out of the ice. This winter you can beat fever and cold with these 3 Ayurvedic remedies

Preserving in-season herbs through the drying method: There are two basic methods of drying herbs: air drying and oven drying. The oven light of an electric range or pilot light of a gas range should be enough for overnight drying.Herbs like basil, chives and mint contain more moisture and it’s best to dry them in a dehydrator or oven.

Air drying herbs can work wonders: Drying works well for woody-stemmed herbs like rosemary, oregano, and lavender.  Simply cut off long stems, bundle, and hang them up to dry.  When harvesting herbs for drying, make certain that they are free of dew to avoid mould growth. Alternately, you can use a food dehydrator to quickly preserve your fresh herbs without the risk of contamination.  These handy machines have a long list of other great uses as well. Also, grow these 10 healthy  Ayurvedic herbs at home. 

You can also make herbal-flavored butter and vinegars: This particularly helps in enhancing the flavour and making food palatable. For this, grate or finely chop the cloves of garlic and transfer to a bowl. Mix the softened butter and garlic until smooth. Add in the olive oil and mix to a smooth consistency. Add in the parsley, dried or fresh, finely chopped. Transfer to a clean dry jar and close lid tightly.

Image source: Shutterstock

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