LIFESTYLE / Preserving Herbs

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I am a herb fanatic! I love them, and use them in all my cooking to add that extra depth, but now, despite the amazingly clement weather that we have been enjoying lately, autumn is well upon us, and if like me you have been cultivating your windowsill herb garden with as much dedication, obsession and time as you would a small child, then it is the perfect time to be heading out into your garden (or leading over the sill in my case) to cut the little babies down ready for preserving. By doing this now your herbs will retain all their glorious properties, and you will be able to enjoy them over the coming winter months, their smells and tastes giving you the memory of summer every time you use them. Plus it will make you feel like a properly organised Domestic Goddess!

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There are 2 main methods, drying and freezing, with each herb better suited to one or the other one. Basil, parsley, coriander and rosemary respond best to freezing, the rest you can dry.

To dry your herbs, first wash and remove any dead leaves or little beasties that may have been making their home there, then using string tie them into small bunches and leave in in a warm place, above the cooker or in the airing cupboard will be perfect. I am incredibly lucky to have access to an aga, so leave mine hanging over it for a few days (it can take up to a month by other methods) or until the leaves will crumble at your touch, then pop them into an air tight container, and use at will!

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You can freeze all herbs if you wish, but I love to dry when I can as I feel like I’ve stepped back into a Victorian novel when I do. To freeze, simply pick the leaves off the stem, place on a backing tray lined with grease proof paper and pop into the freezer. Once solid remove and transfer to a freezer bag, they are then yours to use to your hearts content.

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