What to do with all of those herbs?

What to do with all of those herbs?

My herbs are out of control. Despite their small beginnings, they're growing larger than life and seem to be taking over every inch of available space, vying for more and more attention....they're like the Kardashians, only more useful and less annoying.

Here's the dilemma that many gardeners face - when your garden goods are ready to use before you're ready to use them. Even if you're not a gardener, but you've cooked with fresh herbs, you know what it's like to have a recipe that calls for only 1 tsp of something and you're left with a bunch of remaining herbs that end up going bad. Thankfully, there are many things you can do to capture the flavor when they're at their freshest, even if you can't consume them right away. You can freeze, dry or use them.

Freezing herbs

There are several ways to freeze herbs. If it's an herb you will use off the stalk, like rosemary or oregano. remove the leaves first. There are some who use the method of just cutting the stalks into smaller pieces and freezing, but I say do the work now, and remove them from the stalks. Then follow one of these methods.

  • Spread the leaves on a baking sheet and freeze. Then, wrap them tightly in freezer wrap or freezer bag and freeze. 
  • Chopped up and freeze in oil (canola or olive oil work well) - this can be done in ice cube trays or freezer bags. Once frozen, if using an ice cube tray, remove them and put them in a freezer bag for storage.
  • Blanch them and put them in ice cube trays with water. Once frozen, if using an ice cube tray, remove them and put them in a freezer bag for storage.

Which one is right for you? It depends on how you might use them. If you are going to cook with them, I'd say the oil method. If you plan to add them to things like dips (like my White Bean and Yogurt Dip with Oregano and Parsley or Lemon Parsley Thyme Butter, or other things that don't get cooked), I'd choose one of the other methods. I haven't tried this yet, but as soon as I free up an ice cube tray or two, I'm going to try the oil method.

Drying garden rosemary

Drying garden rosemary

Drying herbs

Cut herbs from the plant, tie them in small bunches and hang them to air dry. You want the moisture to evaporate, but you don't want to dry them out to a point where they lose flavor, so don't sun-dry them. I'm drying out my rosemary.

Using herbs

What do I really have to say about this one? When you garden, you tend to plan meals and cooking around what's ready to use. Since it's the official start to summer today and it's hot and muggy out there, I don't really want to cook, so I used my herbs in two recipes that didn't require that I use the oven or stove, Lemon Parsley Thyme Butter and White Bean and Yogurt Dip with Oregano and Parsley.

Lemon Parsley Thyme Butter

Lemon Parsley Thyme Butter

White Bean and Yogurt Dip with Oregano and Parsley

White Bean and Yogurt Dip with Oregano and Parsley

I'm Catherine, a small-space urban gardener in New Jersey (Zone 7a) who started gardening out of upcycled wooden wine boxes. For years, I wanted to try gardening, but didn't know where to start. I got up the nerve to give it a try - starting small with a single wooden wine box that turned an idea into reality. That reality quickly turned into my filling every sunny inch of space of my postage-stamp size lawn and turning it into a garden oasis. I grow mostly vegetables and herbs with some exception for fruits (when the squirrels and rabbits don't get to them first). I love learning from gardening communities (and lots of trial and error).

I hope one day to take all that I'm learning and apply it to a larger plot of land. To help me get there, I'm extending my learning through the University of Massachusetts, Stockbridge School of Agriculture's, Sustainable Food & Farming program. (I'm addicted to learning as much as I am to gardening.)

This blog isn't just for gardeners (although I hope it inspires some of you to try growing a plant or two). The recipes (food & cocktails) in theRecipes section of this blog contain ingredients that don't have to come from your own backyard. If you like visiting your local farmer's market(or even your grocery store) and would like to get some new recipes you can use with the fresh produce and herbs you get from your local growers, this blog will have plenty for you too.

In addition to gardening and cooking, I also love to visit and photograph my surroundings. I feel fortunate to have so many amazing places here in New York/New Jersey, where I live and work. Visits to local farms, farmer's markets, and cycling through rural farming areas help me feel connected and refreshed. share these experiences in theExploring section of the blog so that you might visit through proxy or be inspired enough to visit yourself. 

With very few exceptions, all of the photographs on this site are ones I have taken myself. (For the photographers out there, I shoot with a Canon 7D and sometimes with my Lumix  DMC-ZS15 compact camera.) 

I hope this blog inspires you to grow, create, explore, and try something new. The best way to stay up-to-date is to follow me using the social buttons above, or click Subscribe and sign up for my email newsletters.    

Happy Gardening and Healthful Living!

- Catherine