Now that I have tasted real herbs from my garden (as opposed to dried or even fresh herbs from the grocery store) I will never go back! The difference in the abundance of taste and aroma is astonishing. Have you ever noticed how much difference there is between a grocery store tomato and one you’ve grown at home or purchased at the farmers market? It’s not just flavor either, there is a wealth of scientific research that documents the stark contrast of national value between grocery store and home grown or farmers market produce. Herbs, like other fresh produce, are rich in nutritional and health benefits. So in addition to being more flavorful and casting a stronger aroma, local herbs will also provide you with much greater health benefits.
So now is the time to harvest what you have or pick up a bundle at the farmers market to store for fall and winter. My two favorite winter storage options are drying and freezing. Freezing works much better if you want the fresh look and taste of the original herbs. For example I find frozen cilantro to be a far better addition to fall Mexican dishes than dried. It retains its bright green look and original texture and is still rich in taste and smell. Parsley & basil are examples of something that works well both frozen and dried, depending on what types of recipes you are using it in. Oregano and thyme, dill and the sort are all amazeballs dried!
How to do it? It’s easy, so easy it’s not even funny.
Freezing herbs: Simply wash and pat dry. Then chop lightly and roll a log in a piece of wax paper for storing in the freezer, about the diameter of a quarter. When you want to use the herbs simply unroll the wax paper and slice off the amount that you need.
Drying herbs: herbs can be dried in a dehydrator or the oven. If you are using a dehydrator you will want to follow the directions for your particular model based on the heat settings offered. Oven drying directions are below. Once you dry them simply crumble them by hand to the desired consistency and store in clean, dry jars for winter use.
- Place herb leaves or seeds on a cookie sheet one inch deep or less.
- Put herbs in an open oven on low heat – less than 180 degrees F – for 2-4 hours. To see if the herbs are dry, check if leaves crumble easily.
After a great deal of research, this is the super affordable and, so far, amazingly efficient, dehydrator that I selected.