How to Store and Preserve Herbs from the Garden

You have harvested all your herbs; now, what do you do with them? Well, the next step is storing and preserving them to enjoy the benefits after the growing season comes to an end.

There are three ways to preserve and store herbs: fresh, air-dry, or freeze. We will separate the herbs into annual and perennial categories and then break it down into each of these techniques.

Once you practice these harvesting techniques, you'll learn what works best for you and your garden. Take this season to harvest and preserve your herbs for cooking, medicinal recipes, crafts, and gifts for your family and friends.

Harvest tips

We have already covered harvesting techniques in another blog titled "How to Harvest Herbs for Growth in the Garden" but here are three quick rules to follow.

1. Harvest herbs in the morning: Snip herbs early in the day when their essential oils are at their peak concentration, and the sun is not evaporating the oils of the herbs.

2. Harvest before flowering: For culinary herbs, like basil and cilantro, harvest before the plants flower to guarantee the best flavor and prevent bitterness.

3. Harvest one-third of the plant: When harvesting, leave enough foliage on the plant to allow the herb to replenish itself for future harvests.

Storage and preserving methods

These techniques are useful for both perennial and annual herbs alike. However, for seed-producing herbs such as cilantro, dill, and coriander, take the time to collect the seeds during harvesting to plant them again next year.

Fresh herbs

Fresh herb storage is short-term; these won't last many weeks fresh in the fridge, so it's best to use them as soon as they are harvested. Rinse the harvested herbs with cold water and gently pat them dry with paper towels to remove any excess moisture. 

Option 1: Place the herbs in a plastic bag with a slightly damp paper towel to keep them fresh in the refrigerator for up to a week. 

Option 2: Alternatively, put them in a jar with about an inch of water to stay fresh.

Either of these two options works well.

Drying herbs

Option 1: Tie the herbs in small bundles using twine and hang them upside down in a warm, dark, and dry place with good air circulation.

Option 2: Spread the herbs in a single layer on a cookie sheet and place them in an oven set to the lowest temperature until they're completely dry or use a dehydrator. Keep an eye on them constantly so you don't forget them!

Once dry, store the herbs in an airtight container away from light and moisture, and don't forget to label them with the harvest date and herb.

Freezing herbs

Option 1: Store the herbs all together in a bunch in a freezer bag. Once frozen, take out the bag and with a knife cut as much as you need for cooking.

Option 2: Finely chop the herbs and place them into ice cube trays. Fill the trays with water or olive oil and freeze. Once frozen, transfer the herb cubes to a freezer bag or airtight container for later use in cooking.

Final thoughts

Properly storing and preserving herbs is a sure way to always have tasty ingredients for cooking all kinds of dishes. Plus, herbs make great additions to gift baskets, crafts, and remedies. You can never have too many in your pantry, ready to go! 





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