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Freezing and Drying Herbs

Enjoy the taste of fresh herbs all year long by freezing for later use. Cut the herbs just before the flowers open. At this point, the herb’s flavorful oils are most concentrated in the leaves, and you can maintain much of that flavor with proper storage.

Four Freezing Techniques:

Option #1: Wash herbs, drain, and pat dry with clean towels. Wrap herbs in freezer paper and then place in a freezer bag. Seal, label, and freeze.

Option #2: Wash herbs and cut them into tiny pieces. Fill sections of an ice cube tray* about half full with herbs. Cover herbs with fresh water and freeze until solid. Place frozen cubes in a freezer bag. Seal, label, and place in the freezer. When cooking, drop frozen cubes into soups, stews, and sauces.

Option #3: Wash herbs and puree in a blender with a small amount of water. Pour into ice cube trays* and freeze until solid. Transfer cubes to a freezer bag, and seal, label, and freeze. Add cubes to foods, as desired, during cooking.
*Note: Herbs may stain plastic ice cube trays.

Option #4: Wash herbs and puree in a blender with a small amount of water (or oil). Freeze thin flat sheets in small freezer bags. This allows you to just break off as much as is needed and put the rest back in the freezer.

Four Drying Techniques:

Option #1: Tie stems together at the cut ends to make small bundles. Hang bundles upside down in an airy, well-ventilated, darkened area, away from direct sunlight. Strip the leaves when they are crispy dry and crumbly, and store n clean airtight jars. Note: Making the bundles relatively small encourages air circulation and helps prevent molding.

Option #2: Strip the leaves from the stems and then lay the leaves flat on screens in an airy, well-ventilated, darkened area, away from direct sunlight. Store in clean airtight jars after the leaves are crispy dry and crumbly.

Option #3: Similar to option #2, but dry overnight in an oven. Many ovens do not need to be heated: The oven light of an electric range or the pilot light of a gas range furnishes enough heat for overnight drying. Remove leaves from the stems and lay the leaves on a pan or cookie sheet, without allowing the leaves to touch. Once dry, store in clean airtight jars. Leaves generally dry flat and retain good color.

Option #4: Wash the herbs. Use a commercial food dehydrator or microwave. With a commercial dehydrator, follow the manufacturer’s directions. With a microwave, watch carefully; heat for 30 seconds at a time – between paper towels – until dry. Store in clean airtight jars.

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Issued in furtherance of extension work, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Kelly Crane, Director, University of Wyoming Extension, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Wyoming Extension, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming 82071.

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