For flavor and taste, there’s nothing better than fresh herbs for use in your kitchen. Herb growers quickly learn that the way an herb is harvested and dried affects flavor. The biggest key to success is harvesting them in the morning. It’s the oils in the herb, that give it flavor. Those oils are the strongest and freshest in your herb plants in the morning hours.
Here is how to properly harvest and dry herbs, to capture their flavor at its peak:
Most herbs are ready to harvest as soon as there are enough leaves on the plant, that picking a few will not impair the plant’s survival.
Harvest herbs in the morning hours, when the plant’s oils are at their highest concentration.
Pick them using a sharp knife, pruning scissors, or shears.
Immediately after harvesting, rinse them gently in cool water.
Allow to air dry, or pat them lightly with a paper towel.
Use them immediately. Or, store it in the refrigerator for later use.
There are two ways of drying herb plants:
The first way of drying them is to spread them out on a drying rack.
The second way is to tie them into a loose bundle and hang them upside down to dry.
It is essential to dry them in a cool, dry place where there is good ventilation. This minimizes the likelihood of mold forming, while they are drying. Watch for mold and discard any affected plants.
Before storing dried herbs, they must be completely dry. It will take a few days. When in doubt, leave it out to dry another day or two.
After herbs are completely dried, they can be cut up as desired and stored for future use.
Many herbs can also be frozen for later use(culinary herbs). If you freeze them, drying them is not necessary.
In addition to drying herb plants, you can freeze them, too.
After cleaning and patting the leaves dry, simply wrap them up tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil.
Then, place them in the freezer.
For use, remove them and immediately put them into your favorite recipes.
Another way to freeze herbs is to take use an ice tray. Put 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of ground or chopped herbs into each tray “pocket”. Next, add water. Then, freeze the ice cube tray. Then, when you need to use it, take a cube out and put it into the recipe. This works great in some recipes like sauces and stews.