Posted on June 20 2022
Whether you love to cook or would rather hit the drive through, nothing compares to the delicious taste of fresh herbs. Experienced chefs know the difference, and the difference between fresh grown herbs from your garden and dried herbs from the spice rack is night and day.
The good news is that growing fresh herbs at home is a relatively easy endeavor, even for those who do not have a green thumb. Herb gardens can be placed anywhere, from the back porch to the windowsill, and when they start to bloom the aroma alone is enough to drive you into the kitchen and get you cooking.
The bad news is that those freshly blooming herbs have a limited shelf life, and if you do not use them quickly or store them properly, they will start to lose their potency, and their amazing taste, in less than a week. If you have an herb garden in your home, preservation is the key to maximizing yield, and here are some great ideas for keeping that freshness going long after the initial bloom is over.
Vacuum Seal Your Fresh Herbs
Vacuum sealing is one of the best ways to store your tender leafy herbs. Leafy greens like basil, chives, cilantro, dill, mint and parsley are best blanched before sealing. This helps the herbs retain most of their flavor when you vacuum seal them. To blanch, dunk them in boiling water for a few seconds. Once you remove them, place them in a bowl of ice water. Now pat them dry with a paper towel. Make sure you dry your herbs before sealing. Never vacuum seal and freeze wet herbs. It can lead to mildew and cause the herbs to turn to mush.
It's best to vacuum seal your herbs in single portions needed for your meals. Portioning out your herbs increases their shelf life since you won't be opening and resealing the bags. Make sure to label each bag. Freezing the herbs immediately allows them to retain their flavor and freshness.
Make Herb-Infused Ice Cubes
If you have more fresh grown herbs than you can use, why not freeze them? Fresh herbs freeze very well, and all you need are a few empty ice cubes and some freezer space.
To preserve your fresh herbs in the freezer, simply combine them with a quality vegetable oil and pour them into the ice cube trays. Place the filled trays in the freezer for storage and preservation, then simply drop them into your favorite recipes for a lovely fresh herb infused taste.
Create Your Own Delicious Herb Oil
When you dine out at a fancy restaurant, the food you eat may be infused with herb oil, a special concoction that makes the flavors pop and gives you a meal to remember. The good news is you can recreate that expensive restaurant experience at home any time you like - no costly restaurant tab and no need to tip.
Making your own herb oil is one of the best ways to preserve those lovingly grown herbs. All you need are some clean empty bottles, enough quality vegetable oil to fill them and a bowl to mix them up.
Just blanch the fresh herbs and pat them dry, then place them in a blender with the vegetable oil. Blend them together thoroughly, strain the mixture with cheesecloth and get ready to fill the bottles.
You can simply use a funnel to fill up those empty bottles with your homemade herb oil and a marker to label them. Once the bottles are filled you can use the herb oil to drizzle over your favorite recipes, or as an extra ingredient. Keep the bottles of herb oil in the refrigerator for maximum shelf life and easy access.
Cook Up Some Homemade Pesto
Making your own pesto is one of the best ways to preserve your extra herbs while giving yourself a great new ingredient.
Combine 1 cup fresh basil leaves, 3 cloves of garlic peeled, 3 tablespoons of pine nuts and 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan in the bowl of a food processor, season with salt and pepper, to taste. With the motor running, add 1/3 cup olive oil in a slow stream until emulsified; set aside. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
If you are a dedicated home cook or budding chef, having an overflowing herb garden in your home is a good problem to have. With such a bounty you may wonder what to do with it all, but you do not have to let those lovely fresh herbs go bad. Now that you know how to preserve the bounty, you can grow as much as you like and use it whenever you want.