Whether you’ve planted a garden full of herbs or found a great deal on a bundle of herbs at the farmers market, summer is coming to an end, and many of us have more herbs than we know what to do with.
While it may be tempting to dry them, drying herbs changes their flavor, which is why I like to use other methods for preserving herbs. Here are three ways to have the flavor of fresh herbs handy all year long.
For hard leaf herbs such as thyme, rosemary, or bay leaves, freezing them works great.
Process: Wash each sprig then spread them out on a paper towel to dry off any surface moisture. Then remove the leaves from the stems straight into a labeled freezer bag. Keep the herbs in your freezer for up to six months. You can also store lemongrass in a similar fashion, but I usually slice it up thinly before freezing.
For delicate soft leaf herbs such as basil, mint or shiso, freezing the leaves does not work very well due to their high moisture content. Instead, I like to turn these into pesto, which keeps well frozen.
Process: Just stuff the leaves into a blender with some toasted nuts of your choice, a hard cheese of your choice, salt, and plenty of olive oil. Pine nuts are the traditional nut of choice, but hazelnuts, walnuts, and even almonds make a great addition to pesto. As for cheeses, Pecorino Romano, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and even Comté taste great in pesto.
Preserve in Alcohol
While technically not herbs, spices such as ginger, galangal, and turmeric can also be preserved without loosing their fresh flavor. Submerging them in a high-proof alcohol such as vodka will let you store these fresh spices for months, and since they’re usually cooked, all the alcohol burns off.
Process: First wash the root thoroughly, and then use a spoon to peel it. Cut the root into several pieces, and put them into a jar. Cover them with vodka (or your choice of high-proof alcohol) and store the jar in your fridge.
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.