How to Choose, Store, Freeze and Dry Fresh Herbs
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Fresh herbs add a delicious, aromatic and downright earthly flavor to foods. However, people are often intimidated by buying and using them. Don’t be! They’re actually very easy to choose, store and freeze and the flavor they bring just cannot be duplicated! If you store them properly, they can last fresh for quite a while. If you aren’t going to use them in time, there are lots of great ways to preserve them!
It can be tough to know what to look for when trying to buy fresh herbs… or so people think. But it is really pretty common sense. Just as with eating, it’s all about the eyes and the nose. Fresh herbs should smell, well…. Fresh. A musty or “old” smell is never a good sign. They should also smell flavorful. Of course, they shouldn’t be wilted, brown, spotty, mold, or slimy. Look for bright, firm healthy looking plants. If they are coming packaged, be sure to double check the dates to get the freshest herbs available!
Fresh herbs will keep for up to a week and a half if stored the right way.
I have an herb keeper in two sizes. (Herb Keepers can be purchased on Amazon with free shipping for prime members.) While it was a small investment up front, it has been indispensable due to the amount I’ve saved in keeping my herbs fresh! You can get a smaller size which is great for most herbs but I also have a larger one I use for larger bunches of herbs such as cilantro and parsley (not to mention it works great on asparagus too).
If you don’t have an herb keeper, you can still prepare your herbs so they keep for a long time in the fridge! Rinse fresh herbs and then spin them dry. Take a mason jar and fill it part way with water, place your herbs (stems only) in the water and loosely cover with a produce bag. Store in the refrigerator. If you don’t plan on using them for more than a week, it is best to freeze or dry them.
There are two options when freezing fresh herbs!
Dry Freeze: First chop the herbs as you would if you were going to cook with them. This will make them much easier to cook with in the future. After you have done that, spread the on a cookie sheet and then put them into the freezer. This will prevent clumping. Once frozen, transfer the herbs to a bag or other storage container. Please keep in mind that while the herbs’ color may change, the flavor will remain the same.
Oil Freeze: I love this way of preserving fresh herbs! Rinse and dry your fresh herbs as with the dry freeze method. Once dry, place chopped herbs in an ice cube tray. Top each space with olive oil and freeze. Once frozen, remove from the ice cube tray and store in a Ziploc bag in the freezer! When you’re ready to use the herbs, no need to defrost! Just drop the frozen cube right into your pan or recipe!
Drying herbs is an easy way to ensure you have yummy flavors for a long time to come! Not only is it easy but it’s a great way to preserve large amounts of herbs. Rinse and dry your fresh herbs as with the dry freeze method.
Once completely dry, bundle your herbs in small bundles and hang upside down in a dark place to dry. Once completely dried, store in a small tightly sealed container. There are tutorials for drying herbs in the microwave or oven online but I find I get the best flavor from air drying.Source: http://herbsspices.about.com/od/buystoreherbsspices/a/BuyStoreHerbs.htm http://vegetarian.about.com/od/cookingtipstools/qt/FreshHerbs.htm