Methods of Storing and Preserving Herbs

Herbs are an important part of cooking and holistic health, but ready-made spices and supplements are very expensive to buy. They are also full of chemicals that are harmful to the health, which is why so many people are now choosing to grow their own herb gardens. After harvesting, the herbs have to be carefully preserved, or they will just go to waste though, and because there are so many different types of herbs, the methods for storing them is based on what preservation methods are used. Read on for several ways to safely preserve and store your homegrown herbs.

Herb Infused Oil
Because drying herbs causes them to lose so much of their texture and flavor, some people like to preserve them in oils instead. It can be done two different ways. The first one is to heat a pan of olive oil on the stove until a water droplet makes it sizzle. Then, drop in your favorite herbs. Feel free to mix several different herbs together. Leave the herbs in the hot oil for about a minute before turning the heat off. After the oil is cool, transfer it to a resealable bottle or jar. The second way to make an herb infused oil is to toss your favorite fresh herbs into the blender with some olive oil, and blend them together. Afterwards, pour the mixture into a resealable bag and freeze it.

Herb Vinegar
The acidity of vinegar makes it a great bacteria inhibitor, so when fresh herbs are put into it, they will last much longer. Simply fill a large jar, or crock, with the herbs that you want to preserve, and cover them with vinegar. Store the herb vinegar in the refrigerator or a cool dark place. Don't be alarmed if there are bubbles that start to form at the top of the herb vinegar. This is a natural part of the pickling process, and it isn't harmful.

Homemade Herb Butter
Herbs preserved in homemade butter retain their flavor very well. Most supposed butter products that are sold in supermarkets are actually just hydrogenated oil with binders to make it thicken. They have very little flavor or creaminess like real butter does. To make your own, just pour a container of heavy whipping cream into a food processor. Pulse the cream until the fat separates from the liquid. It should look like clumps. Pour the liquid into a bowl through cheesecloth, so the fat is separated. Squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can. Then, rinse the fat in cold water and squeeze the water out again. Reserve the liquid that separates from the fat. This is healthy buttermilk that tastes delicious. Mix your favorite chopped herbs into the butter before molding it into squares. Chill the squares until they are solid then wrap them in wax paper. They must be stored in the refrigerator.

Freeze Dried Herbs
Having a home freeze dryer makes herb preservation ridiculously easy. All you have to do is place the whole herbs inside of the freeze dryer and turn it on. They will be done in about one day. Storing freeze dried food is very simple too. Just put it into resealable bags or airtight jars. It will last this way for up to 25 years without losing its color or texture.

These are just a few of the ways that fresh herbs can be preserved. Always be sure to carefully wash herbs after picking them. Also, remember to store herbal leaves whole whenever possible. Chopping or tearing them causes their flavor and aroma to diminish more quickly.


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