Anyone who has a herb garden knows that once they start growing like crazy in the summer months there can be more than you know what to do with, even when that includes sharing the latest harvest with friends. Rather than letting them go to waste, here are a few great ways for you to preserve your abundance of fresh herbs all year long.
Make herb butter
Herb butter is absolutely delicious slathered on grilled meat or veggies of any kind. And there is nothing quite like warm bread with a tasty garlic-herb butter.
To make a herb butter of any kind is incredibly easy. All you will need is your choice of finely chopped herbs (parsley, coriander and chives are particularly yummy), unsalted butter, coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. You can also add a little lemon zest or juice for extra flavour.
Mix it all up in a bowl, ensuring that your herbs are distributed evenly, and scoop your herb butter onto a piece of waxed paper. Using the wax paper, shape the butter into a log and store in the refrigerator. You can also freeze your butter so that it will keep for longer.
Hang to dry
An even easier solution to preserving your herbs is by hanging them to dry. Simply tie bunches of between 5-10 stems together and leave them to dry in a dry, dark and well-ventilated space for about 3 weeks. If you don’t want to wait the 3 weeks you can also place your herbs between paper towels in the microwave and heat them up on high for a minute. The thicker the leaves and stems the longer you may need to microwave them so that they can dry properly.
You can then store your dried herbs in a jar which will allow them to keep for about a year. Dried herbs are great for seasoning dishes and can be kept whole or finely crushed.
Freezing is great method to use when you want your herbs to last for really long periods of time. The best herbs to use for this method include basil, dill, coriander, oregano and tarragon. All you need to do is fill an ice tray a quarter of the way with your choice of herbs and the rest of the way with water, and then freeze. Simply pop out and thaw the cubes as needed.
Herb-infused oil and vinegar
Your homemade herb-infused oils will last around 2 months and the vinegars will keep their flavours for up to 5 months. Once you’ve selected your choice of herb and jar or bottle simply add oil or vinegar all the way to the top, ensuring that your herbs are completely covered and allow to steep for a few weeks in a warm, dark place. Once your oil or vinegar is properly steeped you can add a sprig to your bottle for aesthetic purposes and store in a cool dark place. Your infusions can also make great gifts for friends and family. Recommended herbs include basil, chives, rosemary, thyme and dill.
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