Simple Techniques for Preserving the Flavor & Aroma of Your Herbs

Herbs can be preserved using various methods, though specific strategies provide greater potency and longevity.

Air drying is often the best choice for hardier herbs with long stems. Tie bunches tightly with string or rubber bands and hang them in a warm, dry environment.

Butter is a common choice when preserving herbs, but it can be high in fat content and may have a shorter shelf life than other methods.


When stored, herbs quickly lose their freshness, but drying allows them to be preserved for extended periods while maintaining the flavor intact. To dry herbs effectively, remove their leaves from their stems and hang them in a warm, dry area with adequate ventilation away from moisture sources such as sinks or stoves. This method works best when drying sturdy woody herbs like rosemary and sage with thick stems, while delicate leaves like basil, oregano, thyme, mint, and parsley can also be safely dried this way.

Food dehydrators offer another method for drying herbs and may be an ideal solution if space or sunlight is unavailable to hang them directly. Dehydrator models typically take three to four hours for herbs to dry; once completed, the resultant crumbly texture should be stored in an airtight jar.

The old-fashioned method of tying bunches together and hanging them in a cool, dark room still works well for most herbs. Ensure each herb has enough room between each bunch to dry completely. If space is an issue, put the herbs into a paper bag with their stems sticking out and secure with string. Punch or tear tiny holes in it to allow air circulation and prevent dust from settling on them.

Frozen herbs offer an alternative method for dehydrating food for cooking purposes. Once clean and rinsed, gently shake to remove dirt or debris before placing them to dry on paper towel sheets. You can also pack chopped pieces into ice cube trays filled with water for freezing. When adding flavorful herbs to a recipe, thaw frozen sprigs when needed!

When harvesting herbs that produce seeds, such as dill, coriander, and fennel, slip a paper bag over them once their botanicals begin to turn brown. This will allow the seeds to come loose as they dry—then store them in an airtight jar!


Refrigerating herbs helps ensure they maintain more freshness than when frozen or dried because cold temperatures inhibit metabolic processes and preserve the oil content of herbs such as basil and parsley. This method of preservation is beneficial for delicate leaves like these.

Store fresh, fragrant herb stems in the fridge to preserve them for several days – this is an ideal way to store herbs for soups and sauces! Just ensure that no two stems overlap as this ensures even drying of all of them.

Air drying herbs is another simple, cost-effective method of preservation that works particularly well for herbs with low moisture contents, like thyme (Thymus vulgaris) or mint (Mentha spp). Tie bundles of the herbs with twine or rubber bands, hang them upside down in a dark room with good ventilation, and cover each bundle with a hole-punched paper bag to avoid dust accumulation.

Other herb preservation methods include freezing, sugaring, and infusing them into vinegar, oil, or butter. These methods can be particularly helpful if you don’t feel like cooking or want to add fresh herb flavors to drinks, desserts, and teas.

To freeze herbs, chop and place the desired amounts into ice cube trays before placing them in the freezer. When needed, pop out individual cubes to use in beverages, soups, or stews.

Sugaring herbs should produce a light green hue to preserve their vibrant hue. Cut the leaves off their stems, and bundle large-leafed herbs such as sage (Salvia officinalis) or mint into four to six bundles, and eight to ten bundles for smaller-leafed herbs like thyme, rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus) or lavender (Lavandula angustifolia).

Cover each bundle with a layer of sugar. Place the jar in a calm and dark location for several weeks for flavors to develop before straining and storing it in a clean glass jar.


Fresh herbs are an indispensable part of good cooking. They add flavor, aroma, and color while simultaneously reducing waste and keeping meals healthy. If you have an herb garden or want to preserve cilantro, basil, and parsley from going bad for later use, here are a few easy and practical strategies that may help.

Specific preservation methods will work better than others, depending on your intended use. For instance, herbs commonly used as garnishes, such as lavender or tarragon, don’t fare too well when dried, while herbs used in savory dishes, such as chervil or sage, don’t fare so well either. Luckily, most herbs can accommodate multiple preservation methods.

One of the easiest and most efficient ways to preserve herbs is infusing them, especially leafy varieties that disintegrate quickly when dried. Simply place clean herbs into bottles of oil or vinegar, seal the lid securely, and store in a dark and cool location—herbal-infused oils have a shelf life of over one year if properly stored!

For an extra splash of flavor, use high-proof alcohol to infuse herbs. This works particularly well when using heat-tolerant herbs like sage and rosemary. You can also create an herbal simple syrup by placing clean sprigs of herb into bottles of water and infusing the simple syrup—an easy way to add herbs to beverages and recipes alike!

Another way of infusing herbs into any ingredient, like olive oil or butter, is to mix them with it prior to infusing it. For instance, The Pioneer Woman recommends filling each compartment of an ice cube tray halfway with chopped leaves before topping them off with olive oil. Then, freeze this mixture and pop out a few cubes when ready. To use, simply pop one or two out and use them in your dish of choice!

It is also easy to create herb-infused butter. Mint pairs perfectly with butter; you can use it in various recipes. You can also turn your herbs into herb jelly; numerous recipes, like Pie and Beer’s mint basil jelly and Gourmet’s Cranberry Tartar Jelly, are examples of what’s possible.


If you have too many fresh herbs to consume within their shelf life, freezing is the perfect solution to preserve their flavors without losing their integrity. Freezing allows you to maintain these treasured plant life for months without losing their essence.

Several techniques can be used to freeze herbs. Some of the more popular ways include freezing in water and oil.

Freezing herbs in water requires careful consideration to preserve their aroma and flavor. Some may experience reduced aromatic quality when they thaw; however, this technique remains an effective means for safeguarding delicate flavors such as dill, parsley, and tarragon.

To freeze herbs in water, begin by thoroughly washing their leaves and stems. Then, fill an ice cube tray halfway with clear water and add your herb sprigs, pushing them under as much of it as possible. Place the tray in your freezer until your herbs have completely frozen, then remove it and store it in an airtight plastic or glass jar until ready for use.

Another way to freeze herbs is by placing them in a freezer-grade container or bag and adding just a tiny amount of olive oil—ideal for leafy herbs like basil, coriander, and parsley and woody ones like rosemary, sage, and thyme. This prevents freezer burn, as adding the olive oil helps protect them from moisture in the air as they freeze.

Label your packages of herbs when storing them to ensure you always have what you need on hand while keeping track of how long your herbs have been stored. No matter which preservation method you select – dry them or use one of the other methods – always be sure they’re used within three weeks; otherwise, they could lose flavor and possibly develop mold or other contaminants.

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