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How to preserve herbs – forever!

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pot-of-container-herbsKate contacted me this week with a query about prolonging the life of herbs.

You know how it is – you get inspired by a recipe, buy a pack of herbs from the supermarket and 80% of it goes off before you eat it.

Kate wrote “Have you got any tips on storing fresh herbs?  I’m often left with half a packet of coriander or basil that just goes limp in the fridge.

We also have a glut of fresh herbs in the garden every summer, I would love to know the best way to keep them.”

Pesto

I know it’s obvious, but excess basil bought from the supermarket just screams to be made into pesto, doesn’t it? As long as pesto remains under the layer of oil at the top it can last up to two weeks in the fridge – much longer than a pack of basil! Alternatively, you can freeze it once you’ve made it.

Feta pepper sauce

One of my favourite ‘accidental’ recipes is for a rich, decadent sauce that is wonderful with pasta. Combine one roasted red pepper, half a pack of feta cheese and as much basil as you wish. Blitz it into a smooth sauce and I promise that basil won’t hang around for long.

Store like flowers

Once you get a pack of herbs home from the supermarket, it’s important to store them properly. The best way I’ve found is to pop in a glass of water and store like cut flowers. I put this glass of herbs in the fridge and can usually double the shelf life of them stored in this way.

batch cook

Say you’ve bought some coriander – I’d probably batch cook some curries (or whatever you’re intending to use the herb for) and freeze them. That way you’ve got homemade ‘convenience food’ for those nights you’re in a hurry without the wasted herbs.

For home grown herbs

Use your freezer

Freezing herbs is a great way to get the taste of summer throughout the year. I snip herbs into ice cube trays, top up with water, then use these herb cubes to add to soups, stews or curries whenever I need them.

Make herb butter

Similar to the freezing in ice cubes method is to make herb butter. Who doesn’t love garlic butter slathered over bread or mint butter on boiled potatoes? Make a big batch of herb butter by finely chopping herbs and mixing into softened butter. This can then be frozen in pieces to add to cooking.

Some chopped mint and chives for herb butter:

chopped-herbs-for-herb-butter-recipe

Mix into softened butter and refrigerate for a week or freeze for longer:

making-herb-butter

Drying

One of the most traditional ways to store herbs is to dry them. I cut around six longish stems, tie them together then hang upside down in the house until they’ve dried. Once dry, crumble them and store in a glass container. Virtually any garden herb can be dried and kept in a cool, dark place for a year. Small amounts can be used in cooking and larger amounts made into herbal teas.

Here’s some mint picked for drying:

bunches-of-mint-for-drying

 

Three days later:drying-mint

Dried mint and lemonbalm ready for making tea:

pic8

Freshen your home!

I asked on her Facebook group for more ideas, and I love what Jess suggested. She wrote “I have also found another use for surplus mint. I have put a sprig into my vaccum bag so when I’m vaccuming, the house gets a lovely minty smell.

Keep it growing!

Hollie reminded us that if you’re buying mint from a supermarket, it’s easy to grow on. She wrote “Mint will readily root in water. Any left over can be used to create new plants very easily.

Yummy!

What about you? How do you get the most out of herbs?

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Rachelle Strauss

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