herbs grow in temperate areas of the world leaves and seeds are used to flavor foods flavor comes from oils in the cell walls
methods of preservation drying freezing oil vinegar herb jelly
when to harvest • peak oil • just before the flowers first open, when they are in the bursting bud stage • early morning after dew has evaporated • discard any spotty or damaged leaves • rinse herbs in cool water to remove livestock and soil and gently shake to remove excess moisture
drying easiest method of preserving herbs methods • air drying / hanging • dehydrator • microwave • oven
herb type • less tender herbs • rosemary, sage, thyme, summer savory and parsley • easy to air dry • tender leaf herbs • basil, oregano, lemon balm, mints • high moisture content and will mold if not dried quickly
air drying • warm, dry, airy, dark room • hanging – long stemmed herbs • paper bag with holes will keep dust off and collect any seeds • trays – short stems and small leaves • will take 1 to 2 weeks
dehydrator • temperature and air circulation can be controlled • spread herbs in a single layer on tray, leaves attached to stems • dry two to ten hours at 100°F • check periodically, drying times vary • herbs are dry when they crumble and stems break when bent
oven • lay the herbs on a paper towel, without allowing leaves to touch • cover with another towel and layer of leaves - five layers may be dried at a time • dry in a very cool oven • oven light of an electric range or the pilot light of a gas range furnished enough heat for overnight drying • leaves dry flat and retain good color
Microwave • works well for small amounts • place between paper towels • medium setting for 2 -3 minutes • check for dryness and repeat at 30 second intervals • leaves should be brittle and crumble easily • requires careful attention!
storing dried herbs • leave whole and crumple as needed, or coarsely crumpled before • seeds can be stored whole and ground as needed • place in airtight containers • if condensation forms, drying is not complete • store in a cool, dry, dark area to protect color and fragrance • label each - they will look alike when dried! • shelf life is generally one to two years • according to Penzey’s herb and spice catalog “old spices never go bad, they just fade away”
using dried herbs dried herbs are stronger than fresh general rule: dried herbs = 3 to 4 times fresh
freezing • freezing is best for herbs with soft, lush green leaves • basil, chives, cilantro, dill, fennel, , mint, parsley, sweet cicely • will become limp in the process, but their flavor and color will be intact • to blanch or not to blanch?
freezing, cont • sprigs can be frozen directly • OR chop finely, put in ice cube trays and top with water. • put into labeled, sealed containers • in most cases you will not need to thaw before use • use in the same proportion as fresh herbs
oil • garlic in oil • health risk • must be stored in refrigerator! • vegetables and herbs in oil • less documentation • best made fresh • dried tomatoes and dried herbs less of a safety concern • still recommended to store these in the fridge • freezing herbs in oil
herb vinegar • advantages • which vinegar? • which herbs? • fruits & vegetables • spices • experiment!
how to prepare be clean! • seeds or leaves? jars and lids • only glass jars or bottles free of cracks or nicks • tight fitting non-reactive lids • wash thoroughly, sterilize in boiling water – 10 minutes herbs • wash fresh herbs gently in cold water • lightly bruise leaves to shorten process, if desired • amount varies widely vinegar • heat to just below boiling point, around 195 F
how to prepare, cont… filling • place prepared herbs, fruits and/or spices into jars • avoid overpacking • pour vinegar over ingredients, leaving ¼ inch headspace • wipe rims of jars, attach lids or cords steeping • let sit for 3 to 4 weeks to develop flavors • dark, cool location straining • will clarify product • use damp cheesecloth (triple layer), nylon jelly bag, coffee filter storing • keep out of direct sunlight
how to use your vinegar • substitute in any recipe with vinegar • drizzle over freshly steamed vegetables • make a vinaigrette dressing • dip for bread • marinades • dilute in small amount of water and drink!
herb jelly To make an herb infusion: • combine fruit juice or water and herbs • heat to boiling point, do not boil • remove from heat and let steep, covered, for 20 minutes • discard herbs
basil drying • hang to dry freezing • blanching works well • ice cube trays oil • pesto
chives drying • don’t retain much flavor or color freezing • chop and put on try or in ice cube trays with water • will retain fresh-like flavor and color for one year vinegar
coriander/cilantro growing • seeds or leaves? seeds • shake seed heads into a paper bag • dry completely in a cool dark place • store in freezer leaves • drying results in a loss of flavor • freezing works better
dill drying • hang branches in bunches • hang seed heads inside ventilated paper bag to catch seeds freezing • freezes best when still attached to stalk • will retain fresh-like flavor and color for one year vinegar pickling
lavender harvest • when flowers nearly open drying • tie and hang in bundles • spread out flat cooking • add fresh or dried to baked goods or jelly • mix flowers with black tea
mint dries well • hang upside down or dry in dehydrator • peppermint will hold it’s fragrance and flavor better than other mints when dries uses • tea • mint jelly
oregano drying • best way to preserve • hang stems or spread out flat • strip leaves onto fruit leather insert from dehydrator freezing • oregano pesto vinegar
rosemary harvest • anytime drying • hang stems or spread out flat freezing • freeze in whole sprigs overwinter indoors
sage harvest • before buds form drying • hang stems or spread out flat freezing • blanch before freezing if storing for more than 3 months