Growing up in the Middle East where cooking with herbs or having fresh herbs served with every dish is a tradition long-lived and might be one of the many reasons I love herbs. I always have herbs around the kitchen and use them in almost every dish. Besides the amazing flavors that herbs bring to the table, there are many health benefits that come with them too.
Here in Chicago we only have a small window of time to grow plants outside. As herb lover, I start planting my garden with the first sign of spring. I have a small balcony with planter boxes where I try to get the maximum use out of them. This is where I grow basic kitchen herbs and vegetables, plus a few flowers here and there for the bees and butterflies that come to visit often.
As much as I would like to keep the mini garden going the whole 12 months of the year it’s not possible, so I try to store as many herbs as I can for future days in winter. Every once in a while, I do what I call a mini-harvest. As shown below, I cut as many herb as possible out of the garden and store them as they come. This way I will not be overwhelmed by the end of the season and also I get more herbs because cutting them encourages more growth.
Although nothing comes close to the flavor of fresh herbs, freezing or drying them still can be close enough. Keep in mind by no means I am a herb expert or a master chef, but I have found these methods work good for me and my busy lifestyle.
You need to wash and dry the herbs before using any of the methods below. I do love to use my salad spinner for this part. I fill up the bowl with water while the strainer and the herbs are inside. After 5 minutes or so the dirt will settle in the bottom of bowl. Carefully, without disturbing the water, I grab the strainer out. Then I empty the water out of bowl, spin the bowl a few times, and the herbs are pretty washed and dried. You can use the same system with a simple bowl and strainer and then dry the herbs thoroughly with a paper towel.
If the herb is not dried well enough after washing, it will mold during air drying. Just to be extra safe I spread the herbs on a clean kitchen towel on a flat surface for 10 minutes or so after washing and drying.
Herbs can fall into two categories: high-moisture and low-moisture herbs.
Basil, tarragon, lemon balm and mint have high moisture content and will mold if not dried quickly. They dry the best in an oven or a dehumidifier.
Sage, thyme, dill, bay leaves, oregano, rosemary and marjoram are sturdy, low-moisture herbs that are best suited for air-drying.
If a recipe calls for dried herbs, you can use frozen ones instead, just double the amount of herbs required in the recipe.
I hope you got some use out of this blog post. Since I am always searching for easy and new ways to keep the flavor of my garden around even in the winter, please share your ideas on how you store your herbs.
Co-Founder, Mission 2 Organize
This article was written by Mission 2 Organize