Storing & Preserving Herbs

You’ve picked and dried your herbal harvest now it’s time to store everything properly to make it last.

Realistically you can’t beat the classic glass jar for storing dried herbs.  It seals well, protects from damp and dust, insects stay out and you can see if anything has gone awry with the contents.  Keeping an eye on your herbs is especially important in the first couple of weeks after drying in case there is residual moisture which leads to mould.

Choosing the right jar is not rocket science.  It has to be whole, clean and dry.  Dont make it too large or too small.  Collect all manner of sizes throughout the year so you’ll have a wide choice when you need it.  Make sure there are no remaining odours from whatever occupied the jar last as this will affect your herbs. Label your jars with common name (maybe even botanical name) and date.  Store jars in a cool and dark spot.

Of course putting herbs in a jar is not the only way to store your herbs.

You can preserve your herbs in oil too.  I prefer not to use fresh herbs in oil as the moisture content promotes rancidity and then there is the whole botulism issue.  I am not sure that there has been a reported case of botulism from infused oils, but the common rule is to use plant material that is completely dried, completely submerged in the oil and which is completely removed before storing for any length of time. If you are planning on using the oil up within a week of making then you can leave the herbs in – they do look rather pretty.

If you are concerned about the loss of colour and flavour through drying, you could always use freezing as your method of preservation. Frozen herbs are useful for cooking and for use in making beauty products.

To freeze herbs

If your herbs need cleaning, wash them quickly and dry on kitchen paper. If they are organic and grown free of pollution they wont need washing. Strip leaves and petals from the stems. Lay herbs in single layers and pack them flat in a container or zip-lock bag. Make sure you remove as much air from the bag as possible. Mark your chosen container with the name and date.  When you need to remove herbs from the freezer work quickly. You’ll want to chop a piece off your herb sheet before it defrosts and goes soggy.  I also like to freeze mine in ice cube trays. This allows me little portion sizes to add to my favourite recipes without defrosting too much. You can chop them and freeze straight away or you can blend with a little water and freeze the resulting pulp. Use herbs frozen, dont defrost them first.

Here are some examples of herbs that freeze well










Best frozen flat in a bag

Either frozen in bag or in cubes

Chop and freeze in cubes

Chop and freeze in cubes

Chop and freeze in cubes

Either frozen in bag or in cubes

Best frozen flat in a bag

Best frozen flat in a bag

Chop and freeze in cubes

Storing your herbal bounty well means that you are able to access the wonderful flavours and health giving properties of herbs all year round.

Stay herbal