Stock up on that precious chlorophyll and flavor to keep you sane and spritely through the winter. A quick guide on how to store herbs, leafy greens and green beans. Easy, peasy, breezy.
- Harvest stems of rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil and mint. Make small, medium or large bunches of herbs. I like to group the same herbs together so they have a consistent drying time.
- Using string, twist ties or rubber bands tie the stems together.
- Tie a string across a doorway, window, or other place that will allow air to pass through your hanging herbs.
- Ply open paper clips, leaving two hooked ends connected by a straight stem in the middle.
- Hook one end of the paper clip around the tie and hang the bunch of herbs from the string with the opposite hook.
- Either leave the herbs hanging and use as needed, or over a dry towel or surface, strip the dried leaves from the stems and store the herbs in airtight jars.
- Note: If you only have wall space for hanging, use fans pointed at the herbs to speed the drying process initially (see picture below).
- Note: You can tie a small, medium or large paper bag around the herbs. This will keep them from attracting bugs, allow air to circulate and dry the herbs, and catch any dried leaves that fall (I am constantly sweeping my floor).
Dehydrating herbs (for those with a dehydrator)
For some reason I had this long-lived presumption that dehydrators were out of my budget. They’re not. You can purchase a very decent and nicely sized dehydrator from $34.00 and up! My Open Country 700 Watt Dehydrator was a sweet gift and a pricier version, but worth every penny!
- Strip cilantro, parsley, basil or mint from the stems and rinse them in a colander or salad spinner.
- Air dry your herbs as well as possible, but it’s ok if they are ever-so-slightly damp.
- Spread an even layer of herbs on each dehydrator rack.
- Dehydrate for 4-5 hours at around 100 degrees. Check after 3 hours, and then again every hour.
- They will shrink magnificently!
- Funnel your dried herbs into airtight glass jars or tupperware.
- Rinse and dry your cilantro, parsley, basil or mint (still on the stem) as thoroughly as possible You can use a salad spinner or lay out your herbs on a tea towel, preferably with a low-speed fan.
- Store the herbs in tupperware or ziplock bags in the freezer.
- To use them, chop and cook while still frozen or they will become mushy and change flavor.
Freezing greens and vegetables
- Coarsely chop your greens (kale, chard and any other leafy green). Keep your beans whole or cut into 1-inch pieces.
- Blanch your greens and beans: Fill a medium pot halfway with water and bring to a boil. Prepare a large bowl of ice water and place it next to the stovetop. Once the water is boiling, submerge the greens and beens in the water for about 30 seconds, or until they turn bright green. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, transfer the vegetables to the ice bath to stop the cooking process.
- Drain the vegetables in a colander (squeeze the greens with your hands to remove excess water. Really squeeze!)
- Spread out the greens and beans on a towel to dry. Rub tenderly with another towel to speed the drying process.
- Using plastic wrap, roll up a portion of greens (see image below). Store up to 5 or 6 rolls in a large freezer ziplock.
- Pack the beans into sandwich-sized ziplocks, and pack the small ziplocks into a larger freezer ziplock. Doubling up prevents freezer burn!
- Remove portions as you need them!
- Note: Run hot water over the green rolls to help remove the plastic.
- Note: Allow the greens or beans to thaw or cook with them directly.