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Tips on Herbs

A couple of nights ago, we had our monthly Women’s Mtg. at church where we share with one another information on topics that have to do with home and family.  This night, we learned about herbs. My friend, Flor, was our teacher (Isn’t she cute! Looks like she just won the Miss Mexico Pageant, holding her flowers, but in this case her flowers are actually her chili peppers and basil).  Love you, Flor! She gave us some of the following tips on preserving herbs:

There are several ways to preserve herbs.  The first way is just to pick the herbs and put them in water to use in the next few days, like the sweet basil that Flor is holding in her right hand in the photo above. Another way is to preserve them is the Kosher/Sea salt or Sugar Method.  Wash the herbs, and pat them dry with paper towels on top and bottom.  Then layer them in a pint or quart size mason jar with the kosher salt, sea salt or sugar in between the herbs.  These will keep for 6-9 months. You can layer the herbs with either sugar or kosher salt, topping off the jar with the sugar or kosher or sea salt.  Leave about 1/2 inch of head space. Screw on the lid and allow about 2 weeks for the sugar or kosher salt to absorb the flavor.  Awesome! I thought the main way to preserve herbs is with a dehydrator. I like this easy way. This is pictured on the left here.  For demo purposes, she just did a couple of layers of herbs with sugar. *Note – The Sugar Method works great for lavender, lemon balm, sage, lemongrass, lemon verbena, thyme, rosemary & mint.  The Kosher/Sea Salt Method works great for rosemary, thyme, eucalyptus, bay,m oregano, sage, garlic, marjoram, chives, savory basil, and tarragon.

She also demonstrated a couple of ways to freeze herbs.  Ice cube Method  – After washing your herbs and patting them dry with paper towels, you can put them in a small chopper (add about a Tablespoon of olive oil, if you are chopping sweet basil. Add water for all other herbs).  Then, chop them for a few seconds. Next, empty the chopped herbs into ice cube trays and freeze them.  After freezing the cubes, remove from the ice tray and place cubes in a Ziploc bag, store in the freezer and thaw out as needed.  Then just take them out of your freezer as needed & wahla! you have the herbs you need, without having to buy fresh ones

Vacuum Seal Method to the right.  Dry the herbs, just like before & place them in a vacuum seal bag, as pictured on the right.  Use the small Ziploc vacuum sealer which looks sort of like a large syringe.  Place the tip of the vacuum sealer on the circle in the right-hand corner of the bag, as shown above with the scissors pointing to the circle.  Then suction out the air.  The bag will look like all the air is out.  This inexpensive vacuum sealer, (about $4-5 from Wal-Mart) seems to work as well as the more expensive, fancy, smanchy ones. Then you can freeze the bags of herbs and use them, as needed.  You can do this same method with regular freezer bags, also.  Just try to get as much of the air out as possible by flattening the bag of herbs & laying your herbs flat in the bag.

Also, for the Oven Methodwash and dry the fresh herb sprigs as before, pick out the discolored leaves and woody stems.  Preheat your oven to lowest temperature setting.  Strip the leaves off of the woody stems and chip or clip herbs into 1/4″ pieces or so onto parchment lined cookie sheet.  Place in oven on top rack for 2-4 hours or until the leaves crumble easily between your fingers.  Drying times may vary according climate conditions and relative humidity.  Gather up the parchment paper into a funnel and place smallest end over the mouth of a clean, completely dry jar and seal tightly. Place jar in a dry, dark place such as your kitchen cabinet, pantry or even your freezer.

Last is the Classic Method, where you tie sprigs of herbs into a bunch and hang them in a cool, dark place with good ventilation.  Once dried, seal tightly and store away from heat and light.  These will keep for about a year.

Now that I have this info. maybe I can preserve some of my herbs that are trying to TAKE OVER!

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