Preserving Herbs and Spices

I am sure many of you are guilty of letting fresh herbs and spices to go off or wilt. When a recipe only calls for a bit of ginger or half a chilli pepper the other half usually is left looking sad and forgotten at the bottom of the fridge…

Preserving herbs and spices

You all been here right??

What a waste especially during the winter months when fresh herbs are even more costly as they are often imported.

Well no longer here are some simple tips to make the most out of your herbs and spices.

Preserving Herbs and Spices

Freezing

Chilli Pepper’s and Ginger

You see that chilli and ginger in the picture above put them into separate freezer bags or containers and when you need a bit of chilli or a bit of ginger just take them out and with a fine grater, grate however much you need into the recipe. These will last 3-6 months before losing any flavour.

Herbs

Most herbs will freeze well, especially softer herbs such as basil, parsley, dill and mint. Make sure you wash and dry the herbs well, strip the leaves off and place them into freezer bags or containers label and date them and they should last at least 3 months if not longer.

I have used ice-cube trays in the past and this method is also very good as you will have a handy little cube size which is perfect just to add flavour to your dish. You can use water or oil and mix different types of herbs if you wish. Just freeze in the trays and when the herbs have frozen as ice cubes remove and store in a plastic freezer bag. Remove the cubes as you need.

Drying

Hang up those herbs!

This preservation method requires the least effort and will work best for your hardier herbs such as

Thyme, Sage, Oregano, Rosemary, Parsley, Lavender

Make a small bundle no more than 5-10 stems, tie the bunch together using a rubber band at the top of the stems, any flowers on the bunch should point downwards. Find a dry, warm, dark place to hang them up to air dry them, the kitchen is not recommended.

Leave them to dry for 1-3 weeks thicker stemmed herbs may take longer to dry. To protect them from dust etc you can place a paper bag over them but remember to pierce some air holes in the paper bag to help with circulation and prevent mould.

Once they begin to feel crumbly they are ready to take down. Remove the leaves picking out any bad bits. Label and store in glass jars in a cool, dark place.

Helpful tips

Dried herbs are more potent than fresh so remember that when cooking, one teaspoon dried equals one tablespoon of fresh herbs.

Frozen herbs will not look good as a garnish they’re only good for cooking with.

 

 

  • 5

    Overall Score

  • Reader Rating: 1 Votes

About Mary

Blogger who loves food, travel, books and the occasional red wine!

You May Also Like

29 comments on “Preserving Herbs and Spices

  1. Diprotodon
    February 23, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    I LOVE the ice cube tray idea. We have a serious problem with wilting leafy herbs in our home, and that is a really easy (and also sounds kind of visually appealing too, hehe) idea for storing leftover parsley and basil, which we always seem to have.

    I have considered drying before, but have always been wary. I can be sort of paranoid and I just worry about something getting to them while they are in the process of drying. Do you do anything to protect your herbs while they’re hung up to dry? We have a walk-in closet that’s really the size of a small room honestly that is in the center of the house and stays quite dry and warm, and I think it would be perfect.

    • Mary
      February 23, 2014 at 8:37 pm

      The ice cube tray idea is really the perfect size for a quick flavour boost for sauces etc. I think your walk in closet sounds a perfect spot. You can put a paper bag over the herbs this will protect them from dust etc just remember to put a few small air holes in the bag this should also speed up the drying process. Hope that helps 😉

  2. Ninjasparkles
    February 26, 2014 at 2:36 am

    Good ideas! I’m going to try the ice cube tray for my herbs. I usually stick ginger in the freezer and it freezes well. I also dry my herbs and store them in small spice containers and put them in my spice cabinet.

    • Mary
      February 26, 2014 at 7:41 pm

      Thanks! The ice cubes are a really convenient size 😉

  3. Tammie McGlothlin
    February 26, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    I like the freezing idea, especially with the ice cube tray. I have dried the herbs I grown at home but did not know I could freeze them. The small cubes would be great for soups and stews. You said to mix them with oil, do you then put it all in the ice trays?
    It would be great if I could just mix it all together early and just pull it out as needed.

    • Mary
      February 26, 2014 at 7:43 pm

      Just pop the herbs in the trays and top up with a little water or oil which ever you prefer 😉

  4. sbailey757
    February 26, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    Funny how I’ve froze fruit for smoothies but I have never considered freezing herbs. I will definitely be trying the ice cube idea. Thank you for the good information!

    • Mary
      February 26, 2014 at 7:45 pm

      Your welcome :-) great when you have too much and don’t want to waste any and also saves you buying fresh herbs all the time 😉

  5. cpefley
    February 27, 2014 at 1:00 am

    I would have never thought to freeze ginger, but that is a great idea. It always goes bad before I get a chance to use it all. Thanks for the tips!

    • Mary
      February 28, 2014 at 12:26 am

      I know right, same here before I started freezing it it would be wasted 😉

  6. mel
    February 27, 2014 at 5:47 am

    I never thought of freezing parsley or basil or cilantro. What a great idea! I don’t know how many bunches I’ve thrown away because I just end up not using it all. I have a dehydrator so have dried herbs in the summer when my garden is going like mad and that works great, but for somethings you just really want fresh. Have you tried adding your frozen herbs to something like a salad?? Wonder how the texture would be when it dethawed.

    • Mary
      March 1, 2014 at 10:07 pm

      Thanks :-) I was the same always wasting herbs. I would not recommend frozen herbs for salads, garnishes etc the texture is really only good for cooking with and it would not look as attractive as fresh.

  7. basmae
    February 28, 2014 at 7:30 am

    I’ve stored Ginger in the freezer before but never herbs. Think I might try this as my herbs always wilt before I get the chance to use them all.

    • Mary
      February 28, 2014 at 11:27 am

      It really works give it a go :-)

  8. TreeClimber
    March 4, 2014 at 2:54 am

    I used to buy ginger all the time. But, I got tired of pulling moldy pieces out from the refrigerator drawer. Often, I only had a chance to use it in one recipe. Most of it ended up in the garbage.

    I always thought you had to blanch produce before freezing it. I guess herbs and spices are different? I had no idea that it was so easy to freeze and preserve ginger. Next time I buy fresh ginger, I will give this a try. It’s much better than throwing them away.

    • Mary
      March 5, 2014 at 10:49 am

      You can blanche herbs if you wanted but it is not necessary. I find this works just as well 😉

  9. Christina Nord
    March 11, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    I am in the same boat with fresh herbs and spices I use. I purchase them for a specific recipe, use only a few sprigs, and the rest end up going into the garbage. I hate to throw away food and feel very bad doing so. This year, I received a Food Saver System which helps keep food even longer in the freezer. The ice cube tray idea is great because you can portion out your spices ahead of time and just plop them in the cooking pot when you are ready to make dinner. I am a busy mom and always look for ways to be more efficient in the kitchen!

    • Mary
      March 13, 2014 at 10:32 pm

      This will definitely help save you money and as you say its always great to find more ways to be more efficient in the kitchen!

  10. Haley11
    November 7, 2014 at 2:23 am

    One way I’ve found of keeping your fresh herbs fresh for longer is to take them out of their original packet, wrap them in a damp paper towel, and then placing them in a resealable bag. They will usually keep at least 10 days if stored this way. I figure if I’m going to use dried herbs, I’ll just use the ones from the store!

  11. Mary
    November 20, 2014 at 10:20 am

    These are some great tips, especially for the ginger! Oh, and you are so right, winter is such a difficult time for finding fresh herbs, I will definitely be giving your recipes/ideas a try. Thanks

  12. sirrogate
    January 4, 2015 at 12:30 am

    I love the idea where you freeze the herbs in oil! That sounds super useful. I need to try the ginger idea too!

    I also hang my herbs to dry. The dust doesn’t really gather here, so I don’t use a paper bag.

  13. Kate
    February 24, 2015 at 7:31 pm

    I am always throwing at least half a fresh ginger root away. I find it difficult to buy exactly the right amount for a recipe so I’m always left with a leftover bit which invariably stays in the fridge wrinkling up. I’ve never thought to freeze it until I read your tip above! What a great idea!

  14. ReadWriteLearnLove
    March 2, 2015 at 12:38 am

    I have been trying to figure out what to do with the extra ginger. I hate tossing it just because the recipe only calls for a little bit. So glad to read I can freeze it and grate what I need as I need it. Thanks for the tip!

  15. TinVanMan
    March 26, 2015 at 8:03 pm

    I wish I had read this yesterday. I just threw out half a ginger root and would have loved to have grated ginger next time I make some noodles. Making olive oil, basil, and chili ice cubes sounds like a great way to save some prep time next time I’m trying to impress (or the start of a hilarious prank). What I want to know now is how to extend the life of dried herbs. Any helpful hints?

    • Mary
      March 26, 2015 at 11:30 pm

      The shelf life of herbs and spices varies quite a bit depending upon the particular type of spice or herb.Dried spices and herbs don’t spoil; they just gradually lose their aroma and taste. If properly stored, they may be fine well past the “use by” date. Color aroma, and taste are all indicators of quality.Store in airtight containers in dry places away from sunlight and heat. Whole spices last longer than ground ones. For best quality, buy whole spices and grind them yourself just before use. Most herbs and spices last between 6 months to 2 years. Whole cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon sticks often maintain quality beyond 2 years. Hope that helps 😉

  16. gritsgirl81
    April 22, 2015 at 10:09 am

    I love the ice cube tray idea! I make a lot of crock pot recipes and that would be PERFECT. Much better than dried herbs, which don’t seem to meld as well in crockpot meals for some reason. I have to go buy some designated ice trays for this. Can’t wait to start experimenting! Thank you!

    • Mary
      April 22, 2015 at 7:17 pm

      Glad you enjoyed the post and hope you find it useful 😉

  17. kristin
    June 8, 2015 at 10:06 pm

    This year my herb garden went insane. Somehow I ended up with three different types of basil (that is not a complaint). About three quarters of my flower bed is nothing but basil. I keep giving it away but the summer sun here in California is no match for me. It is growing profusely. I never thought to freeze herbs so I think I will make batches of Pesto and freeze them. Eating Pesto on a cold winter day sounds magical to me. Thanks for such great ideas!

    • Mary
      June 15, 2015 at 8:55 pm

      Glad to be of help Kristin :-)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *