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.

 

 

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Comments

  1. Diprotodon says

    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 says

      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 says

    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.

  3. Tammie McGlothlin says

    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.

  4. sbailey757 says

    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 says

      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 says

    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!

  6. mel says

    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 says

      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 says

    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.

  8. TreeClimber says

    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.

  9. Christina Nord says

    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 says

      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!

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