Growing an herb garden is a labor of love. You don’t have to say goodbye to your herbs though once winter comes knocking at the door. Preserve the flavors and medicinal properties growing in your yard all year long, with these 7 easy ways to preserve herbs.
Now of course there are all types of herbs that you could have on hand. Personally I have savory herbs like rosemary, thyme, oregano and sage, as well as non-edible medicinal herbs like comfrey. Decide how you’re going to use your herbs, and plan accordingly. It won’t do me any good to make a comfrey salt, when I need comfrey as a salve or tincture.
1. Preserve herbs in sugar
Yes, I know sugar is bad for you and all that. However sugar also makes an excellent preservative for many things, including herbs. It combines really well with florals, like rose and lavender, or even peppermint. We don’t use sugar very often, only on occasion as a special treat. Having an herbal sugar on hand really enhances the flavor of things and also adds nutritional value.
To make an herb infused sugar
I normally use rapadura or coconut sugar, but their flavors are too heavy and hide the flavors of the herbs here. This organic, white sugar is what I’ve used before. You can choose from sweet, spicy or even savory herbs, but lavender, mint or rose are my personal favorites. You could also try violets, basil, chamomile, or rosemary.
- Organic white sugar
- Herb of your choice
- In a wide mouth glass jar pour 2 T. of your sugar evenly on the bottom.
- Add a thin layer of your fresh herbs, then another 2 T. of sugar.
- Continue layering until the jar is full, but be sure that all of the herbs are covered in a top layer of sugar that’s ½ inch thick. Cap your jar, and allow the flavors to infuse for at least 4 weeks.
- Before using your herbal sugar, give it a few pulses through your coffee grinder or food processor to break up the herbal matter.
- Replace part or all of the sugar in a recipe with your infused sugar.
- Sprinkle over top of dishes as a pretty and fragrant garnish.
2. Preserve herbs in salt
This method is great for savory herbs like chives, basil, rosemary and thyme, but it can also taste good with sweeter herbs. The method is the same as preserving in sugar, however here we’re using salt. I like to use a course sea salt, like celtic sea salt, but you could also use Himalayan or Real Salt.
- Sea salt
- Herb of your choice
- In a wide mouth glass jar pour 2 T. of your salt evenly on the bottom.
- Add a thin layer of your fresh herbs, then another 2 T. of salt.
- Continue layering until the jar is full, but be sure that all of the herbs are covered in a top layer of salt that’s about ½ inch thick. Cap your jar, and allow the flavors to infuse for at least 4 weeks.
- Before using your herbal salt, give it a few pulses through your coffee grinder or food processor to break up the herbal matter. Since I use Celtic sea salt, I like to really finely grind it in my coffee grinder.
- Use like you would regular salt, to season savory dishes, like soups or meats
- Sprinkle on top of foods as a vibrant and flavorful garnish
3. Preserve herbs in butter or oil
This is one of my favorite ways to preserve herbs for cooking. I usually stick to savory herbs, but sweeter herbs are nice for spreading on bread, raspberry banana muffins and pancakes. You can use a savory butter on this gluten free cornbread or your favorite bread recipe.
- About 1 cup of fresh herbs of your choice, firmly packed
- 1 cup Butter, coconut or olive oil
- If you’re using a solid fat like coconut oil or butter, then place the herbs and fat of choice into a food processor and pulse to combine. If you don’t have a food processor, then finely chop your herbs, and stir into room temperature butter or coconut oil. If you’re using olive oil, then put the ingredients in the blender and pulse a few times.
- Pour your herb mixture into an ice cube tray, and put it in the freezer until solid. I really like using these silicone trays, since I’ve found that fats are really hard to get out of the plastic ones.
- Pop out your herb butter/oil cubes and store in a freezer safe bag for up to 6 months or so.
- Drop a block into a meal that you’re cooking to add a boost of flavor
- Allow the herbal butter or coconut oil to warm at room temperature and spread on baked goods
4. Preserve herbs in raw honey
Raw honey is good for so many things. I use it in my soothing throat spray once a scratchy throat hits, I’ll put some in my morning superfood vanilla latte, or use it to make naturally sweetened caramel. It’s also a great way to preserve herbs though because of it’s anti-microbial properties. Archeologists have even found 4,000 year old honey in an Egyptian tomb that was still good! I like using both sweet and savory herbs in herbal honeys. You can use them for adding flavor to your foods, or for medicinal purposes. Garlic and honey make a great cough syrup.
- Herbs of choice
- 2 cups raw honey
- If your honey has solidified, then warm the jar in a pan of hot water on the stove until it’s liquid again.
- Pack a glass jar full of your desired herb, then pour the honey over it. You want to make sure that the honey is completely covering the herb though.
- Allow the herbal honey to infuse for at least 4 weeks. You can then strain the honey out, but I prefer to just spoon some out as needed.
- Spread on baked goods
- Stir into tea or coffee
- Use to soothe a sore throat
- Replace ½ of the honey in a recipe with your herbal honey
5. Preserve herbs in an herbal vinegar
Vinegar adds just a bite of acidity to perk up dishes. I use it in recipes like my roasted bacon Brussel sprouts, but it’s also handy to clean with. You can see how to infuse an herbal vinegar for cleaning and how to use it here. I prefer to stick with herbs that pair well with savory dishes like oregano, dill, rosemary and marjoram when doing an herbal vinegar.
Herbal vinegars are also useful for skincare. You can use rosemary and/or sage infused vinegar as a hair rinse for healthier hair, or you can use peppermint to make a facial toner, like this here.
- Herbs of choice
- White vinegar
- Fill a glass jar ¾ full of your fresh herbs, then pour vinegar over the top until full. Try to make sure that the vinegar is completely covering your herbs.
- Store in a cool, dark place for 2-4 weeks, shaking daily, then strain the herbs from your vinegar once infused.
- Replace the vinegar in a recipe with your herbal vinegar
- Add a splash to your soup, stir fry or veggies
- Use it in salad dressings or marinades