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Green Hills

Preserve the Herb

Summer is coming to an end and we are thinking about fall and winter. What to plant but also what to save. We grow a lot of herbs and love using them fresh this time of year, but most are great dried for use year-round. We don't dry and save a couple - rosemary can be picked from the plant any time - but sage, thyme, oregano, stevia - these can all dried and used with most of their flavor intact.

To save these great food enhancers we cut them and hang them upside down. They'll dry in a few days to a week or two depending on the plant. We also have a dehydrator which we use for a lot of foods, but we prefer letting these dry on their own in due time. It seems like the flavor stays more intact if allowed to dry slowly. Even at the lowest temps it seems the dehydrator "cooks" away some of the taste.

A couple herbs that don't really dry well are cilantro, parsley and basil. They tend to lose a lot of flavor when not fresh. Basil, in my opinion, loses almost all of it's strong taste.

Thai Basil

Globe and purple leaf basil

Sweet basil

One way to save basil for later use is to make and freeze it as a pesto. A lot of folks do this using ice cube trays so only one at a time, or however many desired, can be thawed and added to the recipe.

Thyme growing in our raised beds. We'll move this, this year, to our front yard landscaping. Thyme can actually be harvested all year though it doesn't really grow in cooler or cold weather so the flavor isn't great. Better during the winter, in our opinion, dried.

As for cilantro and parsley - no worries here - they actually grow almost all year round, going dormant in really cold spells and growing during warmer periods. We are about to plant both which we'll use throughout fall and winter.

Below are herbs growing in our front yard - we grow a lot of these throughout the landscaping - we think they are beautiful plants, add great texture and color to the yard with the added benefit for the kitchen!


Another sage

Stevia, mint and oregano

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