Herbs are some of the most popular and easy edible plants to grow in the garden! They produce high yields, help repel pests and attract beneficial insects, and are just plain delicious. However, once the cold weather sets in, we’re often left harvesting the remains of our plants””much more than we can possibly use before they spoil. Learning how to preserve garden herbs ensures you can keep using them for months and months without them going bad.
Preserve Your Fresh Garden Herbs to Enjoy Them All Winter Long
There are so many incredible garden herbs in Edmonton that beginners can grow, such as:
- and so much more!
Letting the leftovers go to waste would be a real shame! The fresh stuff from the garden is just so much better than the store-bought stuff. If you have bushels and bushels of fresh herbs at the end of the harvest season, try any of these three clever ways to preserve them for long-term storage.
Air-Drying Garden Herbs
Air-drying will extend your harvest’s shelf life exponentially! Once dried, we recommend rubbing the dried herbs between your fingers when adding them to dishes to help activate their flavour.
For air drying, simply collect small bundles of cuttings, tie them up with string and hang them somewhere with good air circulation. Alternatively, you can dry them in the oven by spreading them on a cookie sheet and baking them for 2″“4 hours at low heat””ideally under 180 °F. Check the progress regularly as they bake””if they crumble easily, they should be good to go.
A mortar and pestle can help grind your herbs so they’re nice and fine, or you can crumble them with your hands. Store them in sealed bags or spice shakers.
Preserve Garden Herbs in Oil
Instead of using the actual herbs by themselves, use them to make flavour-infused oils! They’re amazing for drizzling onto salads and fancy appetizers, mixing into marinades, or enhancing the flavour of all sorts of savoury dishes.
Simmer a pot full of light cooking oil””such as grapeseed or safflower oil””with a big handful of your chosen herb. Let the delicious flavours infuse for a few hours, and it’s ready for storage! For delicate, leafy herbs like cilantro or basil, use cheesecloth to strain out the leafy bits. If you’re using thick, woodier varieties like rosemary and thyme, you can leave the pieces in the oil. Store your herbal oil in a sterile, airtight bottle, and it should be safe to store in the fridge for about three months.
Freezing Garden Herbs
This brilliant method of preserving garden herbs uses ice cube trays to freeze them into little cubes, perfect for tossing into sauces and stir-fries. You’ll need a food processor to blend them up. We find this method doesn’t work as well with tough, woody rosemary, but soft, leafy varieties are perfect.
Add your herbs into the food processor with a drizzle of oil or a splash of water. Blend until smooth, and then fill up your ice cube trays! Once frozen, you can move the cubes into a bag, so they don’t take up as much room in the freezer. Then, you can continue freezing even more batches!
There’s still time left to grow some cool-season herbs for a late fall harvest, and you can also grow them indoors! Visit Salisbury Greenhouse in Sherwood Park and St. Albert to explore all the delicious garden herbs you can grow at home.