herbs, whether they be fresh or dried, can greatly improve any
dish. Rachel teaches us how to preserve our herbs.
- Harvest in the morning of a
hot and dry day--wait until the dew is off the plants.
- Snip off the top growth--about
6 inches of stem below the flower buds.
- If the leaves are clean, don't
wash them--oils are lost in the washing process. If they are
dusty, wash briefly under cold water.
- Shake off excess water and hang
the herbs, tied in small bunches, in the sun until the water
- Hang the bunches (upside down)
in a warm, dry place that is well ventilated and free from strong
light. To prevent dust from accumulating, put them in a brown
paper bag that you've punched some holes in to increase circulation.
- If you don't hang them up, remove
the stems and dry them on baking sheets, window screens covered
with clear sheeting or cheesecloth, or even on a towel.
- You can also dry herbs in a
food dryer. For the best flavor, the temperature in the dryer
should stay under 105 degrees F.
- Leaves may be crushed before
they are stored away, but they retain their oils better if they
are kept whole and crushed right before they are used.
- Herbs should be stored in a
cool place, out of strong light, either in dark glass jars, in
tins, or (in a) cabinet. It's best to throw them out after a
year and restock with new ones.
- Blanch herbs before freezing
them. Hold them by their stems with tongs and dip them in boiling
water briefly, swishing them around a little. When their color
brightens, remove them from the water. Blot dry with towels.
Remove the stems, chop if you wish, or leave the leaves whole.
Lay the dried herbs out in a single layer on wax paper and roll
or fold the paper so there is a layer of paper separating each
layer of herbs. Then pack, paper and all, in freezer bags or
wrap in freezer-rated plastic wrap. To use, break off as much
as you need and use frozen. You can also thaw them out in the
refrigerator--they will keep for about a week.
- You can freeze individual portions
of herbs by making ice cubes out of them. Prepare your herbs
by removing the stems and chopping, and then pack them into ice
cube trays. Cover with boiling water (to blanch them) and freeze.
When frozen, remove the cubes from the trays and store in freezer
Copyright 1999 Rachel Paxton.
Rachel Paxton is a freelance writer
and mom who is the author of the Creative Homemaking Recipe of
the Week Club Cookbook, a cookbook containing more than 250 quick
easy dinner ideas.