With winter fast approaching now is a good time to think about harvesting your herbs and preserving them for Winter use. There are a few ways in which to do this but try to harvest after the flower buds start to appear but before they open, this ensures the highest concentration of essential oils.
Some of the more woody herbs are ideal to air dry, just hang small bunches, tied from the stems, in a dark, well ventilated room. When the leaves have dried out remove them from the stems and store in an airtight container. Herbs which have thicker more succulent leaves, such as basil, are better dried in a dehydrator or preserved in another manner.
Herbs can be frozen in their raw state, simply wash after harvesting, remove the leaves and let dry. Once dried they can be bagged up and frozen or placed on a baking tray and individually frozen then placed together in a bag (this way helps them from sticking together). Chopped herbs can also be mixed with stock and frozen in ice cube trays, these can be either single herbs or a mixture of your favourites then simply added during the cooking process.
Herb oils are a great addition to many recipes and can simply be drizzled over salads or meat. Most herbs can be made into herb oil, choose your favourite, blanching for a small amount of time will help retain the colour and also tenderise the tougher varieties such a Rosemary. Choose a light in colour and flavour oil to ensure the flavour of the herb isn’t lost. Spices, salt and pepper can all also be added to get a more personalised taste. Store in air tight bottles in the fridge.
Herbs can also be chopped finely or blended with an oil to make a paste, these can then either be stored in air tight containers or preferably frozen (they will keep longer this way)
Don’t forget to label them whichever method you choose!