As summer winds down, do you have lots of herbs still growing in your garden? If you’re wondering what to do with them, we’ve collected several suggestions on preserving herbs for winter.
- Adrienne from WholeNewMom.com recommends freezing herbs.
Here is her technique: wash herbs and pat them dry. Spread them out on trays so they can dry overnight. The next morning, stack them and place in plastic bags, seal and place the bags into your freezer.
2. Herbalist Susan Belsinger makes herbal syrups to use in place of the liquid in cakes, pie fillings and other baked goods. Her recipe uses a standard sugar-syrup ratio of water and sugar, but you can reduce this when making syrups for drinks. Refrigerate in a container with a tight fitting lid for about 10 days or freeze as long as 8 to 9 months.
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups raw organic sugar
8 -10 herb sprigs or a large handful of leaves (about 1 oz. total: see variations)
Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Bring to a boil, remove from heat and add herb leaves. Use a spoon and bruise them against the side of the pan.
Cover and let stand for at least 30 minutes, to steep and cool to room temperature.
Discard the solids, squeezing them into the pan to extract the herbal essence.
Transfer to a clean bottle or canning jar and label. Seal and refrigerate or freeze.
Note: When freezing, be sure to leave head space for expansion. Partially thaw when needed and pour off what you need and return the rest to the freezer.
Anise hyssop: 6 to 8 sprigs with flowers, or a handful of flowers
Basil: 6 to 8 sprigs of cinnamon, green or lemon basil; flowers are good
Bay: 10 to 12 leaves Bergamot: 6 to 8 sprigs, or handful of flowers
Calendula: Petals only from 10 to 12 flowers
Chamomile: Large handful of flowers
Elderflower: 6 to 8 flower heads
Ginger root: 5 or 6 thin slices of peeled root
Lavender: 10 flower spikes or 1 tablespoon of flower petals
Lemon balm, lemon thyme or lemon verbena: 8 to 10 sprigs
Mint: 10 to 12 sprigs of orange mint, peppermint or spearmint
Rose: 1 generous cup of petals
Rosemary: 5 or 6 sprigs
Sage: 4 common sage sprigs; 6 fruit-scented or pineapple sage sprigs; flowers, too
3. Drying Herbs can be grouped into quick and slow dryers. Quick drying herbs include lavender, marjoram, mint, oregano, rosemary and sage. These can be bundled in bunches, tied and hung to dry in an airy, cool room out of direct sunlight. Slow driers like basil, dill, lovage, parsley and thyme need to have the leaves removed from the stems, cut into small pieces and laid on a screen to dry. Store these in glass jars.
4. Pestos and Vinegars can be made from a variety of favorite herbs. Use three or four sprigs per cup of vinegar. Pesto means to crush, so feel free to experiment. My favorite pesto recipe is here.
Billie Nicholson, Editor