05 ways to Preserve your Herbs in 5 Minutes

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05 ways to Preserve your Herbs in 5 Minutes

05 ways to Preserve your Herbs in 5 Minutes
05 ways to Preserve your Herbs in 5 Minutes

Got a bounty of fresh herbs you want to use all winter but little time to preserve them? These five ideas are as versatile as they are quick. With fresh, clean herbs at hand, each method takes no more than five minutes of active time. Okay, maybe six.

1. Hang them out to dry

While you can easily dry herbs with a dehydrator or right in the oven, hang drying is an even quicker fix.

Five-minute fix:

When you pick your herbs, leave a generous stem. Lightly rinse the leaves to remove the dirt and then gently pat the herbs dry. Tie a bunch together by the stems with a piece of string, then hang the bouquet upside down in a well-ventilated area and walk away. Drying time varies with the herb and humidity, but within a couple of weeks, the herbs should be fully dried. The herbs are ready to go into glass jars with a tight-fitting lid or an airtight plastic bag when the leaves crumble when rubbed.

Best choices: Rosemary, lavender, mint, oregano, marjoram, thyme and sage.

Keeps for: Up to a year if properly sealed.

2. Freeze them in ice

Frozen herbs add punch to soups, stews, and sauces. You don’t even have to defrost them. Just drop them in, watch them melt and taste the difference.

Five-minute fix: 

After washing the herbs, place the leaves in a blender and purée with just enough water to form for a liquid. Pour the puréed herbs into an ice cube tray and freeze. Once frozen, pop the herb cubes from the tray and store in a resealable plastic bag to protect the flavor.

Best choices: Chives, thyme, basil, rosemary, oregano, sage or a mixture of your favorite herbs.

Keeps for: Up to six months in the freezer.

3. Infuse them into vinegar

Herb-infused vinegar forms the base of fabulous homemade dressings. Use them anywhere you would normally use wine vinegar—soups, stews, and sauces.

Five-minute fix: Keeping the leaves on the stems, wash the herbs to prevent any dirt from being added to the mix. Dry them and place a large handful in a clean glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Fill the jar with white wine vinegar and a pinch of salt. Seal tightly and give the jar a shake. Shake the jar daily and in a couple of weeks, you’ll have delicious infused vinegar.

Best choices: Tarragon, thyme, rosemary, dill or a mixture. A whole clove of garlic goes well, too.

Keeps for: Up to a year if kept in a cool, dark place.

4. Add them to oil

Herb oil adds flavor to a meal without adding prep time. Toss vegetables in it before roasting, drizzle some on homemade pasta or rub some under the skin of a chicken before popping it into the oven.

Five-minute fix: 

Wash and dry the herbs. Purée in a blender with an equal amount of olive oil or canola oil. Blend until smooth then pour into ice cube trays and freeze. Once frozen, transfer the cubes to a resealable bag. Defrost before using.

Best choices: Basil, cilantro, thyme, rosemary, chives, savory, sage or a mix.

Keeps for: Up to six months in the freezer. Use immediately upon defrosting.

5. Butter them up

Ever had fancy herb butter at a high-end restaurant? A small investment of time leaves a big impression. Slather herbed butter on homemade bread, stir some into mashed potatoes or let a slice melt over steamed vegetables. What could be easier?

Five-minute fix:

Wash, dry and finely chop the herbs. Mix one part herbs into two parts softened butter. Add a grind of fresh black pepper if you like. Place the herbed butter on a sheet of waxed paper or parchment and roll to form a log. Wrap the log in a couple of layers of cling wrap and freeze. When you’re ready to use the herb butter, slice as many 1/4-inch thick “cookies” as you need. They soften in minutes.

Best choices: dill, chives, basil, tarragon, parsley or a combination.

Keeps for:
 Up to six months in the freezer.

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