How To Preserve Fresh Herbs: This post is part of my ongoing Reducing Food Waste 101 Series.
Please tell me, has anyone ever been able to use up an entire bunch of parsley or basil or rosemary or dill? I love fresh herbs and when I’m not growing (and subsequently killing them), I buy bunches at the grocery store.
Cilantro is my go-to herb and it graces our home most often but Michael abhors it. So, although I hate to admit it, more often than not, at least half usually goes to waste. There are only so many Mexican dishes and taco salads I can eat in the week before it turns. And, so it’s been going in our home for as long as I can remember. I like cilantro too much not to buy it but not enough to use up every last piece.
My last bunch was still sitting in the fridge after our Thanksgiving travels, looking rather sad. It was giving me that feeling I get when I’m about to throw something out that should have eaten. Mostly guilt, mixed with a bit of sadness.
It was around the same time that I was making a new batch of homemade veggie stock. Suddenly a little lightbulb went off, why not just throw the remnants in with the stock? How stupidly simple and another example of how getting creative pays off.
That’s when I started researching how to preserve fresh herbs for other new-to-me ways of saving my poor little bunches.
Here are some of the ideas I found for how to preserve fresh herbs and reduce food waste even further:
Blend With Broth Or Oil And Freeze: Throw your herbs into a blender or food processor with broth or oil then pour the mixture into an ice cube tray and freeze. The next time you’re sautéing vegetables or looking to add a quick punch of flavor to soup. Just pop an ice cube out and let it melt. I’ve always shied away from this method simply because we don’t own an ice cube tray. But in my research I learned you can also take your herb/oil mixture, pour it into a ziplock bag and store it flat. When you’re ready to use you can chip off as much as you’d like and throw it into your recipe.
Dry Fresh Herbs: I’ve used this method for some herbs but not others. I dry fresh bay leaves from my mom’s tree then store them all the time. Yet I’ve never thought to extend this to other herbs. The easiest method I’ve read for drying herbs is as follows. Tie the bunch with a piece of string or rubber band. Hang upside down in a sunny place and wait until they are completely dried out. Chop (if needed) and store in jars. Do not store undried herbs in jars, they’ll mold.
Add Herbs To Your Freezer Stash of Veggie Scraps for Stock: Above I mentioned that I threw fresh herbs into my stock as I was making it. If you aren’t making stock right when your herbs are ready to use, simply throw them into your freezer with the rest of your veggies scraps and use when ready. This honestly had never occurred to me until last week! Fresh yes, frozen no. Don’t ask me why.
Make Into Infused Oils Or Vinegars: I’ve never tried this but it seems simple enough. HGTV has some really simple tutorials here that involve a jar, a strainer and some time.
Make A Salad Dressing: I’ve used the stems of cilantro to make a delicious salad dressing in the past that requires about zero effort. Herbs like parsley, dill, chives, thyme, basil and tarragon work really well for this.
With Christmas coming, and with it all those random recipes calling for a spring of thyme or a 1/2 cup of dill, I thought these tips for how to preserve herbs rather timely. Hope you do too.