8 Ways To Preserve Fresh Herbs

kitchen table full of fresh herbs
Nothing beats the taste of freshly harvested herbs.

Easily preserve fresh herbs at home with any of these simple methods. A lot of these make for great DIY gifts or sellable goods if you have your own farmer’s market stall.

Your garden (or farmer’s market) will explode with fresh herbs all summer long — more than you can reasonably use while at the peak of freshness unless maybe you are running a restaurant.

Here are eight ways to preserve that summer bounty to use all year long. And If you’ve been looking to incorporate more of the culinary herbs into your cooking, these preservation methods will help you do just that.

compound butter made with fresh herbs
Compound butter is an easy way to elevate a meal.

Make Fresh Herb Butter Compounds

Butter freezes well and thaws quickly with no noticeable deterioration. Make compound butters with your fresh herbs and then freeze them in cylinders. The best part is that you can keep the compound butters frozen until needed, making spoilage a non-issue.

It is very easy to cut off a small or large chunk of frozen herbed butter to use in recipes.

I always recommend high-quality grass-fed butter like Kerrygold, or even better, if you have the means — make your own cultured butter from raw grass-fed milk, and then preserve it indefinitely by making herbed compound butters for the freezer.

This would be especially beneficial when milk is at its most nutrient-dense in late spring when the cows are grazing on the lushest pastures.

Use any combination of herbs you love. Experiment with spices. Adding roasted garlic is also highly recommended!

Suggested Uses:

herbed paneer cheese

Make An Herbed Fresh Paneer Cheese

Paneer cheese is unique in that it freezes exceptionally well. It is also ridiculously easy to make because it only requires two ingredients — milk, any type of milk really, and an acid like vinegar.

I take you through the process of making paneer here in my recipe for Make a Simple Paneer Cheese and also in my recipe for Wild Ramp Paneer Cheese 

homemade cheese infused with fresh herbs
Add fresh herbs to soft goat cheese and then roll into balls to soak in a jar of olive oil.

Herbed Fresh Cheeses

Infusing softer, fresh cheeses with herbs and spices is very simple. Goat cheese is a great entry to this if you have never attempted it before. This is another area where experimenting with spices is also fun, and adding roasted garlic is always recommended.

You can even preserve soft and hard cheeses in oil and fresh herbs in your fridge to make them last longer!

Suggested Uses:

Serve as part of a grazing table, tapas, appetizer or charcuterie tray with other delicious small plates such as the following.

fresh rosemary and mint herbs

Preserve Fresh Herbs In Oil

Portion off some of your extra virgin olive oil into smaller glass bottles and then infuse the oil with aromatic culinary herbs. Adding dried hot peppers is also recommended!

This makes a wonderful oil for quickly sauteing something like shrimp when you want a fast meal. Herb-infused oil also makes delicious salad dressing.

The process takes 4-6 weeks for best results and you should keep those bottles tightly capped and stored in a cool, dry spot like a dark cupboard. I’ve seen suggestions to leave clear jars in sunlight but this is a terrible idea as UV rays will degrade your oil. Always store your oils in cool, dark places. Opaque bottles are preferable.

I buy pretty vintage bottles from thrift stores and then make herb-infused oils for hostess gifts. Have a few bottles in the back of your pantry ready for just this reason when you need a last-minute gift.

Suggested Uses:

fresh rosemary, sage, and thyme
Like oil, vinegar infusions add something extra to many different recipes.

Preserve Fresh Herbs In Vinegar Infusions

Like herb-infused oil, herb-infused vinegar is the same concept.

Get some white wine vinegar (apple cider or red wine vinegar for more robust herbs like rosemary and sage) and then infuse your fresh herbs in the vinegar.

Vinegar infusions don’t take as long as oil, only about two weeks to produce results.

This is another great idea for small pretty hostess gifts to have on hand.

Herb-infused vinegar are obviously great with salad, but also try them in sauces (like hollandaise) and on hot fatty meats like pork belly or steak.

Suggested Uses:

homemade sea salt infused with herbs

Herbal Salts & Sugars

I love salt.

I also love making and serving herb-infused salts and herb-infused compound butters in pretty little condiment pots on the table to use with a great steak.

You can do the same with sugar.

The process takes a week for best results and the salt will preserve the herbs indefinitely at room temperature.

Suggested Uses:

fresh thyme herbs tied up for drying

Dry Fresh Herbs

Drying is a method you already know about. Bunch up your herbs, wrap the ends with twine, and then hang them upside down in a dry spot. Drying can take anywhere from 12-48 hours.  Once the herbs are crispy, they’re ready! Store them tied up, or make your own herb and spice blends.

Some herbs are better for drying — like thyme and rosemary — while others, like parsley, are not.

Dried parsley is absolutely useless.

If you’re short on space, a multi-tiered mesh drying rack like this one is a good solution. There are also more traditional racks you can easily make yourself or buy.

fresh herbs in a basket

Preserve Fresh Herbs In Trays of Frozen Stock

Fill ice-cube trays with homemade concentrated and unsalted beef, chicken, seafood, or vegetable stock and then add fresh herbs.

Freeze until needed for delicious sauces and soups. Once the stock inside the trays is frozen solid, you can pop them out and store the cubes in larger bags — I recommend labelling them.

This method is perfect for all those leftover herbs after cooking you don’t want to throw out.

This is a game-changer for your gravies, making them easy to pull off in a pinch, and much tastier.

Suggested Uses:

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  1. Love knowing about all the various ways to preserve herbs. I have done dried and frozen herbs, but I am definitely going to have to give some of these other options a try later this year as my garden herbs become harvestable.

  2. Beautiful photos!! And all of these ideas are such amazing ways to preserve the harvest. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Beautiful post and very informative. I always let fresh herbs dry because I never seem to be able to use them all fresh. Thanks for so many new ideas!

  4. Such great and easy ideas here!! I always end up throwing herbs out, love the idea of using them in butter and oil!