7 Creative Ways to Preserve & Enjoy Homegrown Herbs

You had a great year in your herb patch and now you have a lush crop of herbs waiting to be harvested. Don’t know where to start? Check out some of the ideas below on how to use and preserve your herbs so you can enjoy your harvest all winter.

1. Freezing

You can freeze herbs in a few different ways. One of the easiest ways is to simply chop up your fresh herbs, pack them into freezer bags and put the bags directly in your freezer. When you’re packing them, make sure you squeeze out as much air as possible to prevent oxidation and freezer burn. Also, use small freezer bags if you’ll only need small amounts at a time for cooking.

Another convenient option is to freeze your herbs in ice cube trays with water. You can either blend your herbs with water in a food processor or blender, then put the mix into ice cube trays. You can also chop fresh herbs, pack them into ice cube trays, then fill the remaining space in the trays with water. Once the trays are frozen, take out the cubes and store them in bags to save freezer space.

2. Herbed Oil and Butter

Instead of using water as a base in your ice cube trays, you can also combine fresh herbs with olive or coconut oil. You can use herbed oil cubes directly in dishes. You can also use them as a vegan herbed butter substitute by taking the frozen cubes and spreading them on bread while the oil is still solid.

If you’d like to make a traditional herbed butter, you can mix freshly chopped herbs with some softened butter, roll the butter into a log, wrap it in greaseproof paper, then twist the ends closed. Herbed butter will last in the fridge for about two weeks and in the freezer for up to six months.

Herbs drying

3. Drying

Herbs can be easily air dried or dried in a dehydrator. To air dry, it’s easiest to hang your herbs in small bunches in a warm, well-ventilated area. The key is to give them lots of space and air movement to prevent any mildew from starting. Keeping your herbs indoors or under cover will prevent any dew or rain from reaching them.

Using a dehydrator can speed up the process. You can buy a few different types of commercial dehydrators, or you can try making a dehydrator of your own. Whichever type of dehydrator you try, always keep it at a low heat when drying herbs. Too high of a heat can detract from their flavor.

To store dried herbs, make sure whatever container you use is completely air tight. If air can leak in, so can humidity, which can spoil your herbs.

4. Pesto

Pesto is traditionally made with basil, but many other herbs can also make a delicious pesto. And prepared pesto can be easily frozen in jars for storage. The National Center for Home Food Preservation does not recommend canning pesto as it’s typically prepared with raw, fresh herbs in oil, which would not can safely.

Need a few recipe ideas? Try some of these unique pesto blends.

Related: 10 Things You Can Do with a Jar of Pesto

5. Herb-Infused Vinegar and Oil

Making your own herb-infused vinegar and oil is not as difficult as it may sound. And both are extremely tasty additions to salads, sauces, dips or main dishes.

What’s Cooking America has excellent guidelines on how to make your own herbed vinegar. It can last from 6 to 8 months when stored properly.

Herbed oil is not as acidic as vinegar and does not last as long. Homemade herbed oils should be used within two months if kept in the fridge, or up to six months if frozen. Check out The Spruce’s guidelines on how to make your own herbed oil.

Assorted herbs

6. Fermented Herbs

You may have tried fermenting your own sauerkraut or dill pickles, but did you know you can also ferment fresh herbs? It can be a tasty way to preserve your herbs and get beneficial probiotics while you’re at it. You can use almost any herb and experiment with different blends. Joybilee Farm has detailed instructions on how to ferment your own herbs. You can keep your ferments in the fridge for up to 6 months.

7. Salt Preserving

A traditional method for preserving fresh foods is to mix them with salt. This can also be done with fresh herbs. It works particularly well with soft, leafy herbs that often lose some flavor when dried, such as cilantro, basil, parsley or chives. Kitchen Stewardship has a great overview on how to salt preserve your herbs.

Another similar option is to create a herb finishing salt. This is a herb-flavored salt that doesn’t use as many herbs, but it can make a delicious addition to a dish. Check out Garden Therapy’s recipe for making an herb finishing salt.

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96 comments

Pearl W
Pearl W3 hours ago

Hi All - Hey presto, love pesto - Thanks - smiles

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Winn Adams
Winn A9 hours ago

:-)

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Winn Adams
Winn A9 hours ago

Thanks

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Diane E
Diane E14 hours ago

Delicious and decorative too.

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Sophie A
Sophie Ayesterday

thank you

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Leo C
Leo Custeryesterday

Thank you for posting!

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danii p
danii p2 days ago

Thank you

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danii p
danii p2 days ago

Thank you

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danii p
danii p2 days ago

Thank you

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Janis K
Janis K3 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

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