Good ways to preserve a garden full of mint, basil, thyme, parsley, sage etc.
It's still pretty warm here in the northland and the herb garden is lush and thriving. But past history suggests that the boom will lower soon and the herb garden will be history until next year.
Any great ideas on preserving the herbs? We haven't liked the dried herbs that well. They seem to lose too much. We do make lots of pesto with the basil and vinegars. Any other good ideas?
I picked bags and bags full of Basil and Parley. I rinsed and cleaned them and dried them in the salad spinner. I then chopped them in the food processor and wrapped 2 tablespoons worth in plastic wrap, placed them in freezer bags and froze them.
This isn't exactly preserving, but what I did with some was to finely chop and then mix with butter, roll into a little log and put in the freezer and save for use on top of or in with fresh veggies.
The leafier of those herbs do well if you blanch and then vacuum-seal and freeze; that's how I keep basil around for winter pestos. Drop the leaves in to water at a rolling boil just for a second, and fish them out with a spider and plunge into cold water. Spin those dry and then portion into FoodSaver bags. The blanch keeps them from oxidizing to that unappetizing brown.
Thyme, I've dried in the microwave with some success. Lay them on some non-toxic dessicant -- cornstarch or kosher salt, maybe -- and microwave to 160 degrees, and let them cool in a vented container.
My main way of keeping fresh herbs is to chop with a bit of olive oil and freeze in ice cube tray. But you can also make a killer herbed sea salt with the stuff. Just chop it up coarsely and mix with a quantity of sea salt. The herbs will eventually dry and infuse the salt - you can concoct any mixture you like. My favourite is a mediterranean type mixture - rosemary, oregano, thyme, a bit of grated lemon peel and some hot pepper flakes. Once mixed, put it into a bowl or jar and stir once in a while until the herbs are fully dry. Then keep in tightly closed jar for storage.
I wash & dry and loosely pack into huge ziplock bags and put them in the freezer.
The next day. squeeze the air out of the bag and quickly crush the frozen leaves.
I then take the flakes an put them in airtight jars and containers in the freezer.
Works very well. I used to do them with oil but this way lets me sprinkle them more
like fresh chopped herbs.