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Fresh herbs and preservation

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I love fresh herbs! I buy a few bundles a week at my farmers market, but most of it is always leftover from whatever recipe I'm following. I hate to waste it. Is there anyway to preserve them for later use?

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  1. Chop them finely, place in an ice cube tray, and add hot stock or consomme to cover. When cool, freeze, and you will have cubes of herbed stock for soup, stew, and sauce.

    Another option is herb butter: chop finely, and combine with butter. Use in soups, omelets, fish, and sauces, or sandwiches.

    Finally, make an herb vinegar. Just chop loosely and cram into a bottle of vinegar. Refrigerate.

    1. to sustain the life- I wrap them in a damp paper towel and keep them in a plastic bag with a few slits cut in it & store in the cripser. I have found this will extend the life for about 4-6 extra days past just in a bag refrigeration or treating like flowers.

      If it's an herb that does operata e in heavy rotation I chop and store in a freezer bag and pull it out and use as normal in recipes. This wouldn't really work for garnishes but fine in recipes. I have found this works great for mint and parsely.

      Also a big nod to Jay's suggestion for the cubes is great for soups and stews!

      1. Lay the extras out on paper towels, in your kitchen or dining room. Let dry totally ... until they are crisp. Remove from the stems and put them in a closed container.
        I have done this with the usual, thyme, tarragon, sage, etc . but surprisingly it also works with basil.
        A year later you will be surprised at how aromatic and vibrant these herbs are.

        1 Reply
        1. re: The Old Gal

          yes and mint too!

        2. It really depends on the nature of the fresh herb and how long you want to store. Some do very well (i.e parsley) with a good crop to the stem end, placed upright with the stems in water and in the refrig; this extends them for a few good days. Others do well in the damp paper towel in a baggie. Others do well (like resiny stuff- rosemary thyme) prepare as you normall would for use (de stemmed) scattered across a cookie sheet, frozen then stored in a baggie. Those are great. Minced/chopped herbs can be frozen into stock or even neutral water, in the ice cube tray, but if you add the stock hot, you will have semi-cooked herbs. If you freeze into cold stock/water, please keep in mind normal food safety.

          There is alot to be said for home drying your fresh herbs. Any fresh herb you dry, will be a heck of alot fresher than any dried herb you will buy.

          1. With cilantro I put it in a cup of water and then wrap the leaves lightly with the bag it came in, lasts a long time this way.

            1. Ooh such good advices (I can't wait to try the ice cube one). The Old Gal had the kind I had in mind when posting. Walking down the dry herbs section, I was wondering if I could do that, somehow, to the leftover fresh herbs I have. Thanx Old Gal!

              1. I discovered this stuff on a trip to Quebec and got the below recipe. I made it in early summer when my herbs were just coming in and didn't use it until the end of summer. It was amazing! The herbs were so fresh, the color excellent, and the flavor was great. So I quickly went out to my herb garden and did the recipe using only single herbs. I now have pint jars of basil, thyme, oregano, parsley, chives, etc. that are next to fresh when needed. Basically what I've made is brined herbs. They seem to be staying fresh and usable in the fridge. I have learned to not add any salt to what I'm cooking until after adding the salted herbs and then adjusting from there. I'm going to experiment with giving them a quick rinse in a sieve and then blotting on towels before adding but I'm looking forward to the taste and appearance of these herbs in my winter cooking.

                Salted Herbs (Herbs Salees)

                INGREDIENTS:
                •1 cup chopped fresh chives
                •1 cup chopped fresh savoury
                •1 cup chopped fresh parsley
                •1 cup chopped fresh chervil
                •1 cup grated carrots
                •1 cup chopped celery leaves
                •1 cup chopped green onions
                •1/4 to 1/2 cup coarse salt

                PREPARATION:
                In a large bowl, combine chives, savoury, parsley, chervil, carrots, celery leaves, and green onions.
                Layer 1 inch of herb mixture in the bottom of a crock or glass bowl and sprinkle with some of the salt. Repeat layers until all of the herb mixture and salt is used. Cover and refrigerate for 2 weeks. Drain off accumulated liquid and pack herb mixture into sterilized jars.

                Refrigerate until ready to use.

                Yield: 5 to 6 cups

                2 Replies
                1. re: morwen

                  Glad to have this. I remember Elizabeth David recommending herbs layered in salt, but there wasn't much direction in her book. I layered basil in salt but it bruised and did not look good, so I gave up, and stayed with pesto every autumn.
                  Looking at your recipe, I think any firm leaf herb would work, such as thyme or sage.
                  Thanks for the recipe.

                  1. re: jayt90

                    The basil I did definitely darkened but retained it's flavor nicely. Basil just likes to oxidize after it's been cut and as far as I know the only way to keep that fresh green color is in pesto with a layer of olive oil on top. There's a load of pesto in my freezer too!