How to preserve fresh herbs

January 17, 2013

Food, Herbs and Spices

When adding dried leaf herbs to a recipe that calls for fresh ones, substitute 1/3 the amount called for in the recipe.

by Joanne Henning Tedesco

The faster the herbs dry, the more flavor the dried herb will retain. Dried herbs are stronger in flavor than fresh leaf herbs. When adding dried leaf herbs to a recipe that calls for fresh ones, substitute 1/3 the amount called for in the recipe.

Conventional oven: Place clean, dry herb sprigs on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at the lowest setting until herbs are dry and brittle. This should take about 12 hours. Strip leaves from stems and place in small airtight storage containers.

Air drying: Tie small bunches of herbs with string and hang by the stems in a dry, warm spot, out of direct sunlight but where air can circulate freely around them. Let dry until leaves are brittle — usually a few days to a week, depending on the thickness of the leaves. Pick off the dried leaves and store in tightly covered containers in a cool, dry place about two weeks, or until dry and brittle.

Microwave drying: Pick herbs after the dew has evaporated. Put them on paper towels on a plate in the microwave. Zap on high for a minute. At that point, they appear wet. Stir them, zap again for another minute, stir again, and zap approximately 30 seconds more or until they are dry and crumbly. Rub between your hands to break up; discard any twiggy parts. Store in small jars or baggies.

Freezing: Wrap in foil or plastic wrap. You can chop clean herbs, place in ice cube trays and fill with water. When needed, remove herb ice cubes and drop into hot cooking liquid. You can also wrap bunches of fresh herbs in foil or plastic wrap and freeze for several weeks. You should expect some discoloration of frozen herbs. Mark the date on the container — they can be kept up to one year.

Remember: heat, moisture and light rob herbs of their flavor.

 

Joanne Henning Tedesco is editor of AzNetNews and his been active in the holistic health field for almost 30 years.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 25, Number 3, June/July 2006.

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