Savor The Flavor

How to save herbs for winter use

by Marsha Goldberg, Fairfax Master Gardener
drying herbsFor a gardener, one of summer’s great pleasures is stepping outside, snipping some fresh herbs, inhaling their pungent fragrance, and then using them in dinner that night. There is nothing that compares to fresh oregano topping a pizza or tomatoes and chopped basil drizzled with olive oil. How frustrating, then, to have to face winter without them or, more annoying, to have to pay $3 or $4 to buy a bunch of herbs at the market, use a few tablespoons, and have the rest go bad. The good news is that you can easily save most of the fresh herbs from your garden, use them throughout the winter, and save many dollars on your food bills.

Cut your herbs from plants that have not yet bolted, or flowered, since once this happens, they tend to taste bitter. The best time to cut herbs to store is in the morning, when their oils are at their peak. Have no fear; herbs will grow back once you cut them. In fact, pinching them back or cutting them will cause them to branch out and become bushier, so it is actually healthier for the plant for you to trim it. Be sure to leave some growth or leaves at the bottom of the plant from which it can send up new sprouts.

herbs in ice cube trays

Ice cube trays can store herbs in your freezer

An easy way to store herbs is to chop them up, pack them into ice cube trays, top them with water, and freeze them. Once they are frozen, you can po