How to Harvest, Store, Dry and Freeze Your Herbs

Harvesting 

Detailed harvesting instructions for all of our seed kits can be found in the “Tending and Harvesting Guides” you will find here in the Knowledge Base. Watch the below video demonstrating how to prune and harvest herbs.  

Storing 

If you would like to harvest morHerb 'n Savee herbs than you can use up while they are fresh, you can store them in the refrigerator. Some of the higher water-content herbs such as basil, parsley, savory, epazote, cilantro, chervil, sorrel and mint keep best if stored upright in the refrigerator with their leaves kept relatively dry, but with their stems in water. (To view or purchase a nifty refrigerator “Herb ‘n Save” that works well for storing these herbs, click here.) Most of the lower water-content herbs such as sage, dill, savory, oregano and thyme prefer to be stored in unsealed bags in the fridge, with a piece of paper towel inside the bag to absorb condensation and to moderate humidity. 

Drying 

All herbs can be dried successfully with the proper technique, but the easiest to dry are the lower water-content ones: sage, dill, savory, oregano and thyme. If you want to dry the juicier herbs such as basil, cilantro and mint, extra care must be taken to make sure they do not develop mold before they dry completely. 

To dry herbs, harvest whole stems (with leaves intact) and bundle 4-6 stems together at the base with a rubber band. Make sure the rubber band is tight enough to continue to hold the herb stems as they dry and shrink. Take a small brown paper bag, label it with the name and harvest date of the herb, and poke quite a few holes in the bag for air circulation. Open the bag fully to allow for maximum air flow. Place the herb bundle upside down in the bag, and gather the opening of the bag around the stem ends, tying them up together with a piece of string. Make sure the herbs are not too crowded in the bag, or mold can result.Hang the bag so that the herbs are upside down in a warm room with good air circulation. The bag will help absorb moisture and wick it away from the plants, as well as protect the herbs from light, which will help assure maximum retention of flavor. 

Check the herbs inside the bag in about two weeks to see how they are drying. Check every week or so until they are completely, crispy dry before  placing them in airtight containers for longer-term storage. Zip-close bags will work, but glass jars with tight-fitting lids are preferable, as they are more airtight than plastic bags. Again, make absolutely sure the herbs are bone dry before placing them in airtight containers. Remove the leaves from the stems when they are dry, and store the leaves whole until ready to use in the airtight container. The leaves will retain more essential oil and therefore more flavor if left in whole-leaf form until ready to use. 

You can also dry herbs in the microwave.  Place herb leaves (not stems) between paper towels and microwave on “High” for a minute and a half.  Check for dryness – and they probably will not be dry yet – and then give them additional 30-second microwave blasts on “High”, checking them after each one until they feel completely dry. Careful – you do not want to burn them! then store the whole leaves in an airtight container until ready to use.  They keep best away from light in the refrigerator. 

Use about a teaspoon of crumbled dry leaves in place of a tablespoon of fresh. 

Freezing 

All herbs can be frozen for longer-term storage. There are two methods: whole-leaf freezing, and ice-cube freezing.For either method, harvest only fresh, whole, healthy leaves, wash them if necessary, and pat them dry with a clean towel. To freeze whole leaves, place the leaves on a cookie sheet (making sure they are not touching each other) and place the cookie sheet in the freezer until the herb leaves are frozen solid. You can now take the frozen leaves and put them in a labeled zipper bag in the freezer – now that they are frozen, they will not stick together in a solid mass. 

To make herbal ice cubes, fill ice cube trays half-full with herb leaves, and then cover with water. Place the trays in the freezer until completely frozen, then pop out the cubes and store in labeled zipper bags in the freezer. When ready to use, just add a cube or two to your favorite soup or stew, but don’t expect to use them as a fresh garnish – they will turn black as they thaw.

 

One thought on “How to Harvest, Store, Dry and Freeze Your Herbs

  1. Found a fantastic way to dry the basil! Tried the microwave, air drying all without success, weeks went by and the herbs were still limp. Brown paper lunch bag, basil inside, puff up the bag and roll closed and…drum roll, into the fridge, in a week to two weeks dry herbs that are still deep green and break up nicely, although still have to chop. I shake the bake every few days. Works awesome, the herbs dry perfectly!! I have a garlic clove crusher that minces up the herbs really nicely. Bestest easiest way ever, kind of like the AeroGarden! Just had to share! Can not believe how much basil has grown, I LOVE my AeroGarden!! The whole kitchen smells wonderful. Not including cars, or house, this is the best purchase I have ever made! Been 5 months and plants are still going strong. I couldn’t grow a thing before! Love my baby plants, almost as fun as grandchildren!

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