Preserving the flavors of the season

Now is the perfect time to preserve seasonal herbs to use as the weather gets colder.  Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Drying:  This is a good method to store herbs to use all year long.  You start by gently washing the dirt off the leaves, drying them well (to avoid mold growth) and then tie bunches together and hang them to dry.  It is important to hang them in a spot with low moisture and good air flow. They are ready once they are crumbly and should be stored in an air tight jar.  It usually takes a few weeks depending on the humidity/heat levels. If you would like to dry them quicker, you can use a dehydrator or an oven on a low temp (150 degrees).
  • Freezing:  Freezing is a simple way to store herbs. This method allows the full flavor to be preserved for later use.  My favorite way to freeze herbs is to wash and dry the leaves and then place them into an ice cube tray until each spot is about 1/2 full. Then cover the herbs with water or olive oil and freeze.  Once frozen, you can pop out the cubes and store in a freezer bag or container. Make sure to label and date the contents.  Then you are able to thaw just what you need for each dish.
  • Freezing Pesto/Herb Sauces:  The ice cube tray method can also be used to freeze pesto or other herb sauces.  When I have a lot of basil (or other herbs), I will often make extra and freeze it in an ice cube tray.  Once it is frozen, I put it into a freezer bag or container for future use.  This can really save you time when you are trying to come up with a dinner on a busy night.

For inspiration, here are some creative pesto recipes.

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