Monday, September 24, 2012

Preserving Garden Herbs

Sense of Home Kitchen

I have been preserving my garden herbs for years and have found that a variety of methods work well, it just depends on the herbs I am preserving.  Tarragon flavors vinegar wonderfully and then can be used on salads with a little olive oil for a tasty and inexpensive salad dressing or added to a sauce for chicken. Just place one cup of fresh tarragon and two cups vinegar that has been heated to just before boiling (do not let it boil) in a very warm, sterilized container, bruising the tarragon a little as you do so, cover and leave set for two to three weeks, strain, place in a clean container, cover and store until ready to use.  The type of vinegar you use is your choice.  Regular white vinegar is fine, white wine or Champagne vinegar is very nice, but more expensive, or try a coconut vinegar as I am using this year.

Several of my garden herbs are dried in my dehydrator.  The house smelled wonderful as I was drying tarragon and parsley, a light licorice smell was released from the tarragon.  Once completely dry they are placed in glass spice jars, the parsley being crushed slightly first.

Some herbs are better pulled up root and all and hung upside down to dry.  I do this with thyme because the small leaves would slip through the screens of my dehydrator and be a challenge to gather together after they dried.  Once the leaves are completely dry I will strip them off their stems and place them in small glass spice jars like the ones below.

Sage and basil leaves are dehydrated, crushed and placed in their glass jars, supplying enough for another year's worth of cooking.

Some herbs I have had success with transplanting to a pot and bringing into the house.  Rosemary I have kept alive for over three years in the past (though this year I have a new plant) and parsley I have been able to keep over the winter and sometimes into the next summer.  So these two I dug up, potted and brought into the house to be used fresh.  I have not had good success with keeping basil or thyme alive for more than a month or two so I dried those and the other herbs from my kitchen garden.  If I have a good supply of one herb from the previous summer I do not plant that one in the garden so some of these herbs are on an every other year planting and some herbs I plant in the kitchen garden every summer.

Sense of Home Kitchen / Homemade Living / In the Garden / Kitchen and Pantry