With the seasons changing many of our garden herbs are coming to a end (except our Oregano which I’m pretty sure is going to grow forever). Most herbs tend to love this time of the year but the weather tends to change quickly in mid to end October, so we always plan ahead in preserving our herbs before it’s too late. One frost is all it takes to kill a lovely cilantro plant – don’t let it happen to you.
Freezing and drying herbs in multiple ways makes your garden season last even when there is a foot of snow out on the ground. Need some basil? No problem. Just dry it and crush it up – then you will have basil to last you forever. Same goes for so many other herbs. Also if you don’t have a garden, no worries. Maybe you’re at the farmers market or grocery store and you see a great sale on dill or parsley, grab it, dry it and you’ll have dried dill and parsley to last you the next year.
Here are some ways I use our herbs to make them last as long as possible.
Cilantro: Cilantro is a tricky herb to preserve, but hands down one of my favorites to cook with. In my opinion dried cilantro loses its taste, but you can absolutely freeze cilantro in ice cube trays. Just throw your cilantro in a food processor with some water to turn into a puree, then transfer to ice cube trays and freeze. When you need some cilantro, just pop it out, defrost and use. I often times use frozen cilantro in fresh salsa and it tastes great.
If you’d like to keep your cilantro lasting longer in the freshness department, this is my suggestion on how to store it. This technique keeps your cilantro fresh for at least 2 weeks in the refrigerator. First, cut your cilantro stems down a little bit. Then fill a glass jar with some water, insert cilantro.
Then put a plastic baggie on top and rubber band it to the jar so it’s secure. Put into your refrigerator. Replace your water as it turns brown. Whenever you need some cilantro, just take out the jar and use accordingly.
This is our cilantro after about 10 days, still looks pretty great to me!
I enjoy mint mostly in drinks, either in cold drinks or a great natural herbal tea (post coming soon!). I drink alot of water throughout the day, especially fizzy Seltzer water, but what makes it extra special is some mint with it. To make mint ice cubes, just rip up your mint leaves and throw in a ice cube tray. Then on top fill up with water. Don’t be scared to really fill up these cubes with mint, use as much as you want.
Then when you grab a drink of water, pop out a mint ice cube and it freshens up your drink. This is great in iced tea and lemonade as well.
Dill and Basil: These herbs work great dried so you can cook with them for a endless amount of time. Before we had a garden I would buy dried herbs but not anymore. Drying your own herbs is very economical, not to mention the taste will defeat the store bought bottles!
Dill: I love dried dill in soups, stews and rice dishes.
Dill is also up there on one of my favorite smelling herbs, it puts me in a good mood almost instantly. Maybe I should invent a dill perfume!
Basil is a staple in cooking, both fresh and dried. It’s hands down one of the dried herbs I use most in cooking so I always have a few jars filled up in the kitchen full of it.
To dry your herbs, clean and let dry. Then take a rubber band and tie them up in a place in your home. The dryer the place in your home, the better, but in a loft space like I live in all my living area is pretty equal and I’ve found that herbs dry great pretty much anywhere. Let your herbs dry for a few weeks, usually 3-4 weeks. You will see your herb leaves start to turn crispy. Once the entire bunch is crisp, then untie, remove leaves with a shake above a bowl and crush. I do this the easy way by throwing in a food processor. A few pulses later and you have dried herbs ready for cooking use.
When you walk into our home the first thing you see hanging are herbs and onions. Can we talk about how great your home is going to smell because of these herbs too?
Dried herbs tend to be much stronger than fresh herbs. When substituting dried herbs for fresh herbs, use 1/3 the amount that the recipe calls for. Store your dried herbs in jars.
Dried herbs made direct from your garden make an amazing holiday present. Tie a little bow around a couple of glass jars and you will win the hearts of many!