The Alchemist’s guide to Refreshing Kitchen Herbs

by Brad Isaac on March 23, 2008

Refresh your herbsI’ve long time been an advocate of growing your own herbs and vegetables.

Part of living the good life is eating good, healthy foods that taste better. What better way to enjoy these foods than to grow them on your own property? Having them close at hand makes it convenient to pick and eat them more frequently.

Everyone knows the fresher the herb, the better tasting. But during winter months or off-season growing times, fresh herbs are difficult to grow. The prices are high for freshly cut herbs at the grocery.

And we all probably have a kitchen cabinet with at least a few old herbs that are outdated, stale and bland.

Here is how I like to refresh these kitchen herbs so I have better tasting herbs all year long. First, you need an herb garden. If you live in the US, now is the perfect time to plant the herb garden.

Herbs Don’t Need Alot of Space

Whether you live in a mansion or a one-bedroom apartment, you can still have an herb garden. A large clay pot with soil and seeds is enough to grow enough basil, oregano, chives and parsley for one person. And one pot would barely take up enough patio or window space. For the more technical geeks out there, you might choose my favorite garden gadget – an Aerogarden.

Once you have herbs growing, eating them fresh is best, but picking a few sprigs and drying them for future is a good plan. At times you’ll notice you have more herbs groing than you feel like eating. So pick some and dry them.

How to dry herbs

Drying herbs is simple. Pick some sprigs – the same way you’d pick flowers. Then tie some string around the base of the clump of herbs. Sorry for my sad attempt at drawing this below..  :)

Bundle your herbs for drying

Then, all you need to do is hang them upside down in an inconspicuous location. Hint: You should only need to dry herbs for a week or two. Leave them there too long and they’ll get dusty… YUCK!

Once you have amassed your dried herbs, then it’s time to put them into storage containers. But rather than go out and buy new containers and fiddle with labeling them. Just use the containers you already have!

I like to sniff the old herbs and compare them to the new ones just to see what a difference "refreshing" them makes. Try it, you’ll smell a big difference. You can dump your old herbs into a compost pile or bury them in your soil – they won’t hurt anything. You can then wipe out the container if you like – I don’t spend a lot of time cleaning the containers – just a simple wipe with a paper towel and then refill.

You can use your fingers to crumble the herbs into small pieces or use a mortar and pestle. I have a mortar and pestle from the Charte region of France which is perfect for this and I highly recommend you get only one from Charte. Ha ha… as if the region a mortar and pestle was manufactured would make a difference.

Whichever method you choose, crumble your herbs to your preferred size and spoon them into your now empty containers.

Do you have any unique kitchen herb hacks you’d like to share? Feel free to comment below.

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{ 1 comment }

iphigenie March 27, 2008 at 1:11 pm

I tend to freeze herbs in a bag, whole. Then squish the bag to crush (except chives which if chop first).

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