Preserving vegetables, fruits and herbs is a simple but very satisfying hobby. It’s and easy and cost effective way to enjoy your favourite fruits and vegetables all year round. Pickles, jams and chutneys are the best known ways of preserving vegetables and fruits, but you can also try preserving herbs…
Gardens and farmers’ markets are full of delicious fresh herbs at this time of year, making it the perfect season to use them fresh but also to preserve them for later on when availability has passed, particularly frost tender herb such as basil, which turn tail and bolt at the first sign of frost.
Preserved herbs are excellent for adding flavour to your food and more economical than buying dried versions whose flavour fades before you have finished the jar. Mint, parsley, rosemary and thyme all produce great results through drying but others don’t respond well to this treatment, so you can try instead preserving them in vinegar, freezing them or making herb butters.
Preserving herbs by freezing
To freeze, place your clean, dry herbs over a baking tray – they can be whole or chopped – and freeze overnight. The next morning remove the herbs from the tray and place into sealed containers or bags in the freezer until you need them. They will keep for three to four months in this way before degrading. Chives are one herb that responds well to freezing.
Alternatively, finely chop your herbs and pack them into an ice cube tray, topping up the cubes with water. Freeze overnight then transfer the cubes to sealed containers, then return to the freezer. This is a great way of preparing herbs for soups and casseroles, for example.
Preserving herbs in butter
Herb butters are a flavoursome method of preserving herbs. Mince your herbs singly or as a blend, then mash one part minced herbs to two parts softened butter. Shape into small balls in the size you need and freeze. You can use them to melt into vegetables or onto fish and meats. This isn’t a new or revolutionary technique – think about freezing some garlic and parsley butter for quick and easy garlic bread!
Preserving herbs in vinegar
For a pretty result, rinse and gently pat dry your herbs and place them whole into clean, sterilised bottles. Fill the bottles with white wine vinegar and seal, then leave to infuse for 4-6 weeks in a cool, dark place before using in marinades, salad dressings or drizzled over vegetables. Tarragon is traditionally preserved in vinegar but rosemary and peeled garlic cloves also work well.