Preserve fresh herbs at home with any number of these easy and delicious methods.
Your garden (or farmer's market) will explode with fresh herbs all summer long — more than you can reasonably use unless you're maybe running a restaurant.
Here are seven simple ways to preserve that summer bounty to use all year long. If you've been looking to incorporate more of the culinary herbs into your cooking, these suggestions will help you do just that.
Make Fresh Herb Butter Compounds
Butter freezes well and thaws quickly with no 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!
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.
- Grilled Mediterranean Octopus
- Starting off your Risotto
- Drizzle on Roasted Red Peppers
- Finish (or start) off Soups
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 vinegars are obviously great with salad, but also try them in sauces (like hollandaise) and on hot fatty meats like pork belly or steak.
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!
I'm working on some articles on how you can easily make fresh cheeses at home with raw grass-fed milk, so stay tuned for that.
Serve as part of a grazing table, tapas, appetizer or charcuterie tray with other delicious small plates such as the following.
- Marinated Fried Anchovies With Halloumi
- Medjool Dates Wrapped in Bacon
- Grilled Octopus Salad With Waffle-Cut Sweet Potato Fries
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.
Dry Fresh Herbs
Drying is one method you already know about to preserve fresh herbs. 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.
Preserve Fresh Herbs In 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.
I will be posting much more in-depth recipes for all of these methods — but you don't really need them to be honest. These techniques are open to interpretation and creative culinary experimentation.
Did I miss anything? What are your favourite herb blends?