Preserving Fresh Herbs
Pictured here, from top to bottom: Parsley, Dill, Cilantro, Rosemary, Mint, Fennel, Basil, Sage
This year, our CSA (customer supported agriculture) veggie boxes have been providing lots of fresh herbs. While fresh herbs are generally preferred to dry, they often won't last very long unless you take care to store them correctly. Below are a couple ideas that the farmers at Wild Willow Farm use to store fresh herbs.
The first method, as pictured above, involves freezing fresh herbs in ice cube trays. First, wash your herbs. Then chop and place into the cells of an ice cube tray or other container. Ideally put about a tablespoon in each, but you can do more or less if you prefer. Then, fill with water and freeze. You could also use olive oil or another type of oil instead of the water. Once frozen, remove to another container and label. These will last a very long time. To use, simply add the ice cube to what you are cooking. Drop it in your soup or add it to your stir-fry.
It is also easy to dry (most) herbs. Farmer Cheyanne likes to keep it simple, using rubber bands and a plastic clothes hanger. Just hang and dry. Once the herbs have dried completely, take them down and store. You can also use a food dehydrator, however I've had better luck with the hanging method.
Lastly, if you have a regular supply of fresh herbs and want to get the best shelf life, this is the method I use most. This works particularly well with basil, cilantro, dill, parsley, mint. Take your bunched or un-bunched herbs and place in a glass jar or cup with some water in the bottom. The parts of the herbs that are submerged usually don't hold up, but the leaves will remain fresh for up to a week (or more). Find a safe spot in your fridge so it doesn't accidentally get knocked over or store on the counter.