Summer is quickly coming to a close, and a lot of gardens are needing maintenance. If you are someone that has created a beautiful herb garden, you may find yourself overwhelmed with the amount of herbs you actually have. There are a lot of great uses for herbs, but if you don’t preserve them correctly, you could find yourself throwing away a lot of herbs. Let MommyMatter show you some ways to preserve your herbs this year and have a long lasting stash of herbs!
This is the most common method used. While you can dry them by hanging them upside down in clumps, I prefer to use a dehydrator. It’s faster, not as messy and doesn’t attract bugs. It usually also prevents mold. If you don’t have a dehydrator, an oven set at around 100 degrees can work.
This method is good for leaves, roots, tubers, rhizomes, flowers and bark. It may also be useful for certain types of flowers.
If the preparation you with to prepare is softer in nature, it can be preserved by canning. Fruits, some rhizomes and tubers could be taken care of in this manner. It’s important to note that high heat will be involved, so delicate remedies such as flowers are not best saved this way.
Alcohol: When using alcohol to preserve, triple filtered vodka is the best bet. It is the only potable undenatured alcohol available, and that is the preferred route. If it is for topical use only, you may be able to use grain alcohol, but I don’t recommend it. Vodka is cheaper, easier to find and a whole lot safer.
Oil: Olive oil extracts can also be a good method. You can do this with cooking herbs as well as medicinal herbs. I keep garlic oil on hand at all times, and it’s much easier to make than buy. The same holds true with vinegar. You can buy all of those fancy jars at high prices, or you can get a jar, put in the herb and pour on the extracting material.
Freezing: A few herbs can be preserved in this manner, but it isn’t easy and they don’t always keep the strength the other methods can do. Leaves like basil, mint and other soft leaves can be used this way. Some flowers, like elderberry flowers, rose petals and hibiscus may be cared for this way.
About Roots and Bark
While they need a little drying time, these plant parts are very hardy. Spread them out to get hard, and then put them into an air tight container. If they are all dry, they should stay mold free and useful for three to six months.
Once preserved, all of the herbs should be stored in a cool, dark place. Extracts should be stored in green or amber glass bottles to prevent light damage.
With all these different, simple methods, you can preserve what you and your family might need and have it to carry you through the winter. It doesn’t matter if it’s for cooking or for remedies, these methods work.