Food & Entertaining - Garden to Table

Five ways to preserve your herbs in five minutes

Charmian Christie

Don't let all that flavour wither on the vine! Try these simple recipes to season a variety of meals

Got a bounty of fresh herbs you want to use all winter but little time to preserve them? These five ideas are as versatile as they are quick. With fresh, clean herbs at hand, each method takes no more than five minutes active time. Okay, maybe six.
1. Hang them out to dry
While you can easily dry herbs with a dehydrator or right in the oven, hang drying is an even quicker fix.

Five-minute fix: When you pick your herbs, leave a generous stem. Lightly rinse the leaves to remove the dirt and then gently pat the herbs dry. Tie a bunch together by the stems with a piece of string, then hang the bouquet upside down in a well-ventilated area and walk away. Drying time varies with the herb and humidity, but within a couple of weeks the herbs should be fully dried. The herbs are ready to go into glass jars with a tight fitting lid or an airtight plastic bag when the leaves crumble when rubbed.

Best choices: Rosemary, lavender, mint, oregano, marjoram, thyme and sage.

Keeps for: Up to a year if properly sealed.

2. Freeze them in ice
Frozen herbs add punch to soups, stews and sauces. You don’t even have to defrost them. Just drop them in, watch them melt and taste the difference.

Five-minute fix: After washing the herbs, place the leaves in a blender and purée with just enough water to form for a liquid. Pour the puréed herbs into an ice cube tray and freeze. Once frozen, pop the herb cubes from the tray and store in a resealable plastic bag to protect the flavour.

Best choices: Chives, thyme, basil, rosemary, oregano, sage or a mixture of your favourite herbs.

Keeps for: Up to six months in the freezer.

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