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Food Preservation Tips: How to Keep Herbs Fresh for Longer


In the culinary scene, herbs make any food taste wonderful.

Ordering pizza for the weekend? A sprinkle of dried oregano can turn it into an authentic Italian dish. Whipping up some guacamole? Fresh cilantro can spice it up with a citrusy zest.

If you love growing lots of herbs for your home-cooked meals, you might want to cut them and set them aside during the colder months. And you don’t have to worry about them going bad–as long as you know how to preserve them.

At Hilltop at Shavano, we know that a lot of our residents love cooking in their apartments and that herbs are the go-to ingredients of avid home cooks. So in this post, we’ll share with you three ways to keep your herbs tasting fresh for longer.

Air-Drying

One of the easiest solutions to preserving herbs requires no equipment at all. All you need are a few supplies, and you can enjoy dried herbs with the purest flavors possible.

You can air-dry herbs in a couple of ways: spread them out on a rack or tie them in bundles.

The former can give you dried herbs in a matter of days. But while the latter can take up to two weeks to completely dry the herbs, the drying bundles can add a lovely country cottage touch to your kitchen.

Spread Them Out

  1. Spread the herbs on a drying screen, spacing them evenly apart. If you don’t have a drying screen, you can use a baking tray lined with a cheesecloth or paper towel.
  2. Put the screen or tray in a warm, dark, and well-ventilated spot in your apartment.
  3. Turn the herbs twice a day to ensure they aren’t getting moldy.
  4. Allow them to thoroughly dry for two to three days and store them in an airtight container.

Bundle Them Up

  1. Gather your herbs in small bunches.
  2. Tie the stems with twine or an elastic band.
  3. Hang the bundles upside down in a warm, well-ventilated area, away from direct sunlight.
  4. Wrap each bundle with a paper bag, allowing the stems to stick out.
  5. Punch or tear holes around the paper bag for better air circulation.
  6. Let the herbs dry for one to two weeks before storing them.

Microwave Drying

Want to enjoy dried herbs in the quickest way possible? Using a microwave is the most efficient method of drying herbs, especially in humid weather.

What’s great about the microwaving method is that it only takes a few minutes. Simply grab a batch of fresh herbs and follow these steps:

  1. Line a microwave-safe plate with two layers of paper towel.
  2. Spread the leaves of the herbs on the plate and cover them with another layer of paper towel.
  3. Microwave for one to three minutes. Check and turn the leaves every 20 seconds to ensure they’re completely dry. Continue microwaving until they’re crumbly to the touch.
  4. Once they’re dry, you can store them right away or grind them into powder form.

Freezing

If you want herbs to taste as fresh as the day they were picked, you might want to go with the freezing option. It’s also the best method if you aren’t a fan of dried herbs and don’t mind a change in texture.

To freeze the herbs for effective preservation, you’ll have to:

  1. Blanch the herbs in boiling water for a few seconds and plunge them in ice-cold water.
  2. Chop them up and place them in a resealable bag or an ice cube tray.
  3. Add canola or olive oil to the bag or to the wells of the ice cube tray.
  4. If you’re using a resealable bag, make sure to squeeze out the excess air before sealing it. Then, place the bag on a flat surface and spread the herb mixture to flatten it out.
  5. Put the container in the freezer.
  6. After freezing the herbs, you can simply pop out the ice cubes or cut chunks off the flat frozen mixture and drop them into your soup or sauce.

Hilltop at Shavano in San Antonio, TX

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