Herb Pot 101: Caring for, Drying & Freezing HerbsKelsey Banfield
One of the most important lessons I ever learned from my parents was how to grow my own herbs. Herbs can liven up the flavor of just about any dish and are incredibly easy to grow at home. Maintaining an herb pot is also very inexpensive, growing your own will help you save a bundle at the farmer’s market or grocery store. Here are some great tips on the easiest and best ways to care for your very own herbs at home!:
1. Growing: Buy herbs that have already started to grow in the pot. It is much harder to grow herbs from seeds so buy plants that have already been cultivated by a quality grower. This means you can start enjoying your herbs immediately after bringing them home and all you have to think about is maintenance.
2. Everyday Care: Herbs like rosemary, thyme, basil, oregano, parsley and sage need to be watered whenever the first inch of soil in their pot is dry. Simply stick your finger one inch deep into the soil. If it is dry, water the plant until it suitably moist, but make sure no puddle forms at the top. If herbs are over-watered their roots will rot and they will die quickly. Herbs love the sun so leave the pot in a place that gets at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day.
3. Trimming: Herbs should be trimmed with a simple pair of scissors. When harvesting herbs clip them off the stem and pinch back the plant on a regular basis. Try to trim herbs weekly, if not more. The young, tender leaves are delicious and clipping them weekly will prevent them from becoming larger and tough. Weekly cuttings always encourage new growth so your plants will fill out with more leaves and branches over time.
4. Drying: Always wash herbs in the sink to rinse off any dirt and bug debris. Place them on a paper towel and pat them dry with another paper towel. If you are going to use them within 10 days, wrap them in a clean, damp paper towel and place them in a plastic bag. Store them in a cool, dry spot in your fridge.
5. Freezing: If you want to freeze herbs for later make sure they are herbs are dried thoroughly. Then place them in a ziploc freezer bag, press the air out to the best of your ability and seal the bag. Label the bag clearly and place on a freezer shelf. As you freeze herbs simply stack them on the shelf, one upon another. Frozen herbs can last in the freezer for up to 1 year. (Or, so has been my experience).
6. Thawing: To use frozen herbs place the freezer bag at room temperature for an hour or two. Once herbs become flexible enough to bend with your hands they are ready to use in your cooking. Enjoy!