Preserve your fresh herbs

Basil, Chives, Mint or Tarragon are better frozen

Now is the time to begin harvesting and preserving the herbs growing in your garden.
 
Keep in mind that the best time of day is the morning before the hot afternoon sun has had it's chance to dry your herbs.  

Air drying herbs is the easiest and least expensive way to preserve your herbs.
 
This is also the best way for the herbs to keep their natural oils.

The best herbs to air dry are Bay, Dill, Marjoram, Oregano, Rosemary, and Thyme.  

Herbs that are best preserved by freezing them would be Basil, Chives, Mint or Tarragon.
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How to Dry Herbs
1.  Cut the branches from your herb plants.
2.  Remove any dry or leaves that look like they are diseased.
3.  Shake to remove any insects.
4.  Rinse with cool water and pat dry with paper towels.
5.  Remove the leaves along the bottom inch of the branch.
6.  Bundle multiple branches together and ties as a bunch using a rubber band or string.
7.  Hang upside down for a couple of weeks in a warm room.***
8.  When herbs are completely dry, use or store for future use (up to 1 year).
 
***When you get to this step, you can also put the herbs upside down in an empty paper bag.  Punch a few holes in the bag for air circulation.  Label on the outside of the bag what type of herb you have inside.
 
Storing Dried Herbs
1.  You will want to store the dried herbs in air-tight containers or ziplock bags.
2.  Label the containers with the type of herb inside.
3.  Leave the leaves whole and then crush them when you are ready to use.
4.  Do not use any herbs that appear to have mold on them.
5.  Place your containers in a cool, dry place away from the sun.
6.  Use within 1 year for the best flavor.
 
Freezing Herbs
1.  Cut the branches from your herb plants.
2.  Wash the herbs carefully.
3.  Pat dry to make sure there is no dirt on them.
4.  Strip off the leaves and place them into freezer bags or containers.
5.  Label and date them.  Frozen herbs will last about 3 months.
6.  If you would like the herbs to last longer in the freezer, blanch them for a few seconds in hot water and then straight into ice-cold water and them put them into the freezer bags or containers.  Blanched herbs will last up to 6 months in the freezer.

You would use 1 teaspoon of crumbled dried leaves if a recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs.

 

To read more of Phil Steinhauer gardening advice, visit http://www.designscapescolorado.com/news/