As you may have noticed, I've begun a new series called Preserving Summer's Bounty, where I am creating photo tutorials of some of the different foods that I am preserving this summer, along with a variety of preserving methods. If you missed the first two, they are:
Beautiful Blueberries (freezing)
More posts in this series to come will likely include freezing garlic, canning tomatoes, canning fruits (like peaches or pears), canning blackberry jam, canning applesauce and making dried apples, dry storage for long-term veggies (squash, onions, garlic, etc.) and whatever else I find myself up to!
Today, I just wanted to briefly show you what I do with my fresh herbs.
I should have taken a better photo of it, but you can still see some of my basil leaves sitting on my dehydrator tray behind the grinder. Immediately after I pick my herbs, I give them a good rinse (and a spin in the salad spinner, if they need it). I generally remove the stems and only put the leaves on the dehydrator trays. I dehydrate mine at around 95 F. You can do it a little higher than that, but a lower temperature helps to retain more of the oils in the herbs for better flavor.
For those who don't have a dehydrator, a tried and true method is to put the herbs into brown paper bags, and then seal and tie them upside down in a dark place with good air circulation. Once the herbs have fully dried (about 1-2 weeks), you can continue on grinding them as I do.
Once they're thoroughly dry, I pull out my trusty little coffee grinder (which has barely ever seen coffee, but sees a whole lot of herbs, nuts, seeds, etc.). I fill it up with dried leaves, and pulse it several times until I have a fine enough grind. I just continue doing little batches until it's done, and as I go along, I pour the ground herbs into either glass jars that I re-use, or sometimes little ziploc bags.
It's important to label them immediately, because although you might be able to tell what they are by the smell or sight, quite often ground green herbs look an awful lot like so many other types of ground green herbs!
I do this with pretty much any herbs I grow: basil, oregano, dill, mint, thyme, rosemary, parsley, etc. I can't really think of much that this wouldn't work with!
I store my dried herbs in my pantry, where it's dark, to help them retain their flavor longer. As my small glass jars on the counter are used up, I simply refill them from my pantry stash.
Though I haven't done so this year, one other method that I've used to preserve herbs was to take fresh oregano and basil leaves, and blend them up together. I froze this puree into ice cube trays, and then popped the herb cubes into a ziploc bag to keep in the freezer. This helped to retain a really nice flavor when I melted a cube into a spaghetti sauce or the like.
The wonderful thing about herbs is that anyone can grow them, no matter how small your home is or whether you have a yard or not! Growing your own fresh herbs makes such a difference in taste, whether you're using them fresh or dried.
Do you grow your own herbs? Which ones? What do you usually do with this excess herbs that you want to preserve?