Herbs can grow quite fast and you need very little for maximum flavor in your culinary dishes and for medicinal purposes. So how do you get the most out of your herb garden? You want to prune and harvest regularly so that your plants continue to grow and provide fresh herbs to use, but you need to store those cuttings someplace. You have a few choices available and what you decide may depend on which herb you’re storing and how long you want it to last.
Storage in the fridge
Fold a cloth napkin and put it inside a zipper bag, place your fresh herbs on top of the napkin, gently press and close. Store in a bin where you can adjust the humidity and temperature levels. This works especially well for rosemary and thyme, but I’ve also stored fresh chives this way.
A lot of fresh cut herbs will rot and go bad very quickly when you put them in the fridge, so sometimes it’s better to skip the refrigeration and go for countertop or freezer storage.
Storage on the countertop
Just like fresh picked flowers, you can store your herbs right on the counter in a little bit of water and a glass container. Just snip the ends and add about an inch of water before placing the stems in. This works especially well for basil, cilantro, and parsley. (Basil especially, as it tends to turn black very quickly if you pop it in the fridge.)
There are also plenty of fancy herb keepers available online and in stores these days. You’ll find pods, specialty bags, and a variety of snap shut containers all designed to keep your herbs their absolute freshest all the time.
Storage in the freezer
Sometimes you just have too much to use right away and you’re not sure you’ll be able to use it up before it goes bad.
Chop your fresh herbs as you normally would and divide into ice cube trays, pour olive oil, avocado oil, or melted butter over top, and pop into the freezer. Once they’re frozen solid you can pop them out and sort into individual freezer bags for long term storage. Just make sure you label them all before you walk away … once they’re frozen in oil or butter they all start to look the same and it can be difficult to distinguish which herbs are which. Grab one when you’re cooking and you’re ready to go. They’re perfect for soups, stews, and sauces.
Drying the herbs for storage
Dried herbs from your garden will still out-flavor most store bought brands and off-the-shelf herbs. As an added bonus, when you do this yourself at home, you’ll know without doubt that there were no unwanted preservatives added to them in the process. (and of course your house is going to smell wonderful during the process too.)
All you need to do is tie your herbs in bunches, put a paper bag over them (which can later be composted) and tie it closed and hang the herbs upside down in a warm airy room
Don’t forget to actually enjoy the herbs you grew and saved! They so often get shoved into a pantry or drift to the back of the refrigerator without being used. Experiment with them, add flavor to dishes you cook at home, and enjoy every single bite. After two to three week they should be sufficiently dry and ready to be transported to airtight containers, such as small canning jars. Store whole leaves and crush them when you are ready to use them to preserve flavor. Keep them in dark cabinet, they should last about a year. Enjoy!