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Delicious, easy ways to preserve your herbs

by Timber Press on September 25, 2016

in Food, Gardening


Selecting, growing, and preserving garden-fresh herbs has never been easier with The Culinary Herbal. All included images by Shawn Linehan.

As summer comes to an end, preserve your flavorful garden herbs with “sage” advice from Susan Belsinger and Arthur O. Tucker, the experts behind the gorgeously photographed and comprehensive guide to everything verdant in the kitchen: The Culinary Herbal.

We all know drying herbs is one of the best ways to keep your herb garden’s summer bounty ready for all-season cooking. In addition to simple herb syrups, consider these excellent ways to save your culinary herbs to use all year long.

Generally, freezing most herbs does not yield great results. When herb leaves are frozen, the low temperature breaks down the cellular structure, and the leaves become mushy and turn dark. We prefer to dry the woody-stemmed perennials, such as rosemary and sage, for texture and flavor. For our favorite way to freeze herbs, we find that making a paste with the fresh chopped herb leaves and oil yields a far superior product. The oil surrounds the herb and captures its essence and keeps it from turning dark. This process also has a longer shelf life than freezing herb leaves on their own or in water.


If you want to freeze herbs on their own, harvest and clean the herbs, and remove the leaves from the stems and place them in one layer on baking sheets. “Flash freeze” these for about 30 minutes until they are hard, and then pack them in small, airtight freezer containers or pint freezer bags, and label. Frozen this way, they tend to keep their green color a little better and they don’t stick together in a frozen mass. Remove the leaves as you need them, adding them to your recipe while still frozen.

CulinaryHerbal5Herb Butter
Harvest fresh herbs on a sunny morning, rinse the sprigs if necessary, and pat dry. Put the 8 oz soft, unsalted butter in a medium bowl. Add 2 to 6 tablespoons of the herbs, depending on what strength you want, and mix well with a spatula. If you want to make a butter that doesn’t freeze quite so hard, add the olive oil. On the work surface, place a square of wax paper or plastic wrap. Scoop out the herb butter mixture and put it in the center of the wax paper. Form it into a log, and wrap tightly. Or pack the herb butter into 1/2-cup glass or ceramic containers and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator as is, or put into a freezer ziplock bag for storing in the freezer. Herbal butters keep for up to two weeks in the refrigerator and six months in the freezer.


belsinger_sSusan Belsinger is a culinary herbalist, food writer, and photographer whose articles and photographs have been published in many national magazines and newspapers. She travels extensively, giving lectures and demonstrations on subjects pertaining to gardening and cooking with herbs.


tucker_aArthur O. Tucker is a botanist specializing in the identification and chemistry of plants of flavor, fragrance, and medicine. He is the research professor and director of the Claude E. Phillips Herbarium, and an emeritus professor at Delaware State University.


Click image for a look inside this book.


“Nothing like herbs to punch up those veggies. . . . this guidebook walks you through the propagation, harvesting and preserving of herbs.” —The New York Times Book Review

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