13 Ways To Preserve Fresh Herbs

by Suzan Ferreira
13 Ways To Preserve Fresh Herbs closeup of fresh lavender in container to dry

Looking for ways to preserve herbs during the height of their growing season? A way to capture the intense flavor that only fresh herbs straight from the garden can boast? These 13 unique ways to preserve fresh herbs for long-term use will allow you to access the taste of fresh herbs year-round.

This post may contain affiliate links at no additional cost to you.  By making your purchases through the links on this website, IMSL may make a small percentage at no direct cost to you. IMSL only promotes products we use & truly believe in. Please refer to my Privacy & Disclosures for further information. IMSL thanks you for your support!

Anyone who has ever grown their own herbs will quickly acknowledge their intensity of flavors are like no other. During the height of growing season here in Zone 5b, preserving fresh herbs is on the top of our to-do list before frost hits. Finding easy ways to preserve and store fresh herbs for long-term use has been on our radar for almost 16 years, giving us access to a taste of summer all year long.

13 Ways To Preserve Fresh Herbs closeup view of fresh rosemary growing in the garden

FAVORITE WAYS TO PRESERVE FRESH HERBS

There are many ways to preserve the flavorful herbal bounty before they are hit with a killing frost. Some methods in our experience work far better than others, but all work in their own way. Choosing which method is right for you would largely depend on where & how you intend to use the herbs.

In no particular order, these 13 ways to preserve fresh herbs will make all that flavor available when needed.

DRYING & DEHYDRATING

Drying & dehydrating fresh herbs is probably one of the most common methods of preserving those fresh herbs. These methods may be the easiest ways to preserve and store and use your harvest. There are several methods you can use to dry your herbs for long-term storage with little loss of flavor or quality.

AIR DRYING METHOD – The air drying method works well if you have an area with good airflow that you can hang bundles of fresh herbs undisturbed for a length of time. This is a method that is preferred here at IMSL for large harvests such as our yearly basil & oregano harvests as the herbs retain their potency & flavor.

Be sure to give Beautiful Basil! How To Dry & Store Your Yield a look for full instructions on how to hang those herbs for drying.

13 Ways To Preserve Fresh Herbs fresh sage in vase to display and dry

For smaller harvest yields, to air dry them simply place them on a cooling rack, place in a dry vase or sieve to dry. The harvest below dried within 3-4 days.

13 Ways To Preserve Fresh Herbs fresh oregano, thyme, and roselmary in antique sieve to dry

NOTE: Some recommend using an alternative method for drying herbs with a high moisture content such as basil, chives, and mint. However, if you have an area with good airflow that can remain undisturbed for an extended time, this method has worked extremely well for us with no issue.

OVEN DRYING METHOD – Don’t have a large crop or space needed to air dry your harvest? Consider the oven drying method. This simple method is great for those small harvests when time is an issue and you want them dried like NOW!

To oven-dry, simply place your leaves or seeds on a cookie sheet and place in the oven set at a low temp, less than 180 F, for 2-4 hours. The potency & flavor may be reduced with this method as they slightly cook. Thus, you may need to use more in your cooking for the same flavor results.

With both these methods, to test their dryness, they should crumble easily when squeezed or crushed. To retain as much flavor as possible, keep the leaves whole when storing them. Store in an airtight container, away from heat and in a dark area until ready to use.

DEHYDRATING – Dehydrating your fresh herbs is another way to easily dry them. Especially if you live in an area with high humidity levels and air-drying is not an option. By using a dehydrator, your herbs will be dry within 1-4 hours.

According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, to dehydrate your herbs simply follow their instructions below.

“Dehydrator drying is a fast and easy way to dry high quality herbs because temperature and air circulation can be controlled. Pre-heat dehydrator with the thermostat set to 95°F to 115°F. In areas with higher humidity, temperatures as high as 125°F may be needed. After rinsing under cool, running water and shaking to remove excess moisture, place the herbs in a single layer on dehydrator trays. Drying times may vary from 1 to 4 hours. Check periodically. Herbs are dry when they crumble, and stems break when bent. Check your dehydrator instruction booklet for specific details”.

National Center For Home Food Preservation
13 Ways To Preserve Fresh Herbs closeup view of fresh oregano

PRESERVE IN SALT

This old fashioned method of preserving herbs may be one of the easiest ways to have access to fresh from the garden herbs for months. The method couldn’t be more simple. Check out this simple tutorial shared by Gabriela over at the Bossy Kitchen, How To Preserve Herbs In Salt For Winter use or follow her steps below.

  • Remove the clean & dry leaves from the stems.
  • In a clean glass jar add a layer of salt on the bottom of the jar. Gabriela recommends using sea salt, kosher salt, or Real Salt (our favorite). Canning salt may also be used.
  • Layer the herbs on top of the salt and then add another layer of salt. Alternating herb and salt layers until the jar is full.
  • Refrigerate. The following day remove the jar. The volume will have decreased to about 1/2. Repeat and refill the jar.
  • Store in a cool dark place such as a cool basement, root cellar, or refrigerator.

Gabriela recommends keeping the herb leaves whole and not chopping the herbs to reduce the amount of salt consumed when using them. To use herbs packed in salt, be sure to remove the herb leaves and rinse prior to use to reduce that salt content. She also recommends that you are weary when cooking and taste before adding any additional salt as the herbs obviously will have retained a certain level of saltiness.

INFUSE IN VINEGAR

Preserve and use those herbs by infusing vinegar! This method works amazing with chives & chive blossoms. I love this vinegar when making our homemade italian dressing (post coming on how we make our own!). There is no limit as to the herbs you can use in this method. Think parsley, sage, fennel, and tarragon to make amazing infusions!

Stephanie Rose over at Garden Therapy has a wonderful tutorial, Herb Infused Vinegar, showing how easy it is to make your own infusions along with some wonderful ideas on how to use them!

FERMENT HERBS

Who knew? Fermenting herbs to use can be done! Daniel over at Insane In The Brine has a great way to create lacto-fermented herbs. Be sure to check out this simple method if you are searching for additional ways to add ferments into your diet.

CREATE AN OXYMEL

OK, you may be thinking what the heck is an Oxymel? An oxymel is actually a remedy that is made using equal parts of acid (vinegar) and honey. This remedy is wonderful to make when you need to administer herbs that are not so pleasant to take.

You may have heard of “fire cider” an amazing home remedy used to prevent viruses and help support the immune system. This “cider” is made with a unique combination of ingredients; onions, garlic, jalapenos, apple cider vinegar, & honey to name a few. “Fire cider” is an example of an oxymel and one that we make and sell here on the hill.

You may find that the “taste” is improved after creating the oxymel, what doesn’t improve with a little nurturing honey? Some ways to use your oxymels include adding some to a seltzer on a hot day, or topping pancakes or waffles, or use instead of dressing on your salads.

PESTO ANYONE?

Making a pesto, is traditionally made by combining crushed garlic, European pine nuts, coarse salt, basil leaves, hard cheese such as Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Sardo, all blended with olive oil, can be made using more than just basil leaves.

Pesto can be made using just about any tender “green” you may have on hand. Parsley, carrot tops, swiss chard, kale are all good options when making pesto. Our friends over at the Cheerful Kitchen have rounded up 21 different and unique recipes for you to enjoy.

When making pesto to preserve your fresh herbs, simply follow your favorite recipe, freeze in your desired amounts and store long-term in the freezer for some amazing meals throughout the year!

13 Ways To Preserve Fresh Herbs closeup view of fresh thyme growing in garden

PRESERVE FRESH HERBS IN HONEY

This sweet method of preserving herbs, think lavender, mint, lemon balm, and sage, is a favorite method. We recommend sourcing your honey locally and using only raw, unprocessed honey as it’s been shown to contain all the beneficial nutrients needed.

To infuse your honey, simply take clean, dry herbal leaves (they can be whole, crushed, or chopped) and cover with honey. Store in a dry, dark space and allow the honey to infuse for at least 6 weeks.

Suggested uses? Use in cooking to sweeten and spice up your recipes. Add to a cocktail to lightly sweeten & flavor it…think lavender. What about making a honey herbed butter (sage) to glaze meats? Add a lemon balm infused honey to a nurturing tea to ease cold & flu symptoms or to simply enjoy.

MAKE A PASTE

Not into pesto? Simply make a paste of the herbs and freeze into predetermined amounts you will need. Rebecca over at It’s Not Easy Eating Green has a wonderful tutorial on how to make your own fresh herb pastes.

FREEZE IN COCONUT OIL

Create little nuggets of herbal freshness by simply removing the leaves from your cleaned & dry herbs and place in an ice cube tray. Melt the coconut oil, our preferred brand is here, over low heat. Cover the herbs in the ice cube tray with the oil and freeze. Remove the cubes from the tray and store in your preferred container in the freezer.

FREEZE IN BONE BROTH

What better way to use your preferred herbs to your savory dishes or just to enjoy in a mug on a cold morning than to freeze your fresh herbs in bone broth! How we make our own bone broth is coming soon to the blog!! Freeze in the same manner as stated above and enjoy!

13 Ways To Preserve Fresh Herbs showing fresh herb leaves being placed into ice cube tray

FREEZE IN WATER

When you don’t want the added flavor or fat of oils, simply following the instructions for freezing in ice cube trays or larger portion sizes above and simply cover with water and freeze. These water-herb cubes can be added to soups, stews, and many other dishes or teas.

13 Ways To Preserve Fresh Herbs cut up herbs in ice cube tray to freeze with olive oil or water

FREEZE IN OLIVE OIL

Freezing in extra virgin olive oil is an easy one. Freeze as stated above and store in an air-tight container for use in your freezer.

HERBAL EXTRACTIONS

Looking to harness the medicinal qualities of fresh herbs and roots? Make an extraction. An extraction is simply when a substance is made by extracting from raw material, such as herbs, using a solvent, such as alcohol or water. Our friends over at Herb Pharm describe it best in their article “What Is An Herbal Extraction”.

Extracts are typically categorized by what solvent is used for the extraction process. Tinctures, for example, most commonly use alcohol or glycerin for the extraction process. Be sure to read our article on tinctures with “How To Prepare For Cold & Flu Season With Elderberry Tincture”, which details the simple method of extraction by making a tincture.

13 Ways To Preserve Fresh Herbs fresh rosemary in antique vase to root in water

BONUS! ROOTING & GROWING HERBS INDOORS

For those of us who have a limited growing season, nothing could be better than knowing you will have access to your most loved herbs all year long! For herbs such as Rosemary, root cuttings in water and then replant in a pot on a sunny windowsill to use year-round!

TIP: When rooting, be sure to strip the “leaves” off the bottom of the stem and don’t allow the water line to cover any of the lower leaves while rooting.

13 Ways To Preserve Fresh Herb pin image for Pinterest

Hopefully, you will find these methods of preserving your fresh herbs for long-term storage & use helpful. Be sure to join the conversation below and let us know of your favorite ways to preserve those fresh herbs!

Love, Light, & Laughter ~

Signature of Suzan from It's My Sustainable Life

This post was featured at Centerpiece Wednesdays!

You may also like

81 comments

Melynda Brown September 3, 2020 - 12:17 am

Hello, this is one of my favorites for Encouraging Hearts and Home, this week! Stop by and say hello, and this post has been pinned!

Reply
Suzan Ferreira September 3, 2020 - 9:41 am

Thank you for the support, Melynda!

Reply
Catherine Sokolowski August 30, 2020 - 12:51 am

I didn’t know there were so many ways to preserve herbs. I would love to dry my herbs but I live in such a humid state and they never dry like I need them to. Thanks for sharing our other choices. I can’t decide which to try first!

Reply
Suzan Ferreira August 31, 2020 - 9:26 am

Hopefully one of these options will work with your humidity concerns. Thanks so much for reading, Catherine!

Reply
karen reekie November 4, 2019 - 5:57 pm

I tend to air dry my herbs, but I would love to dehydrate some for use, they have more flavour that way. I may have to try some of these other methods too!

Slightly delayed comment from October #goinggreen

Reply
Suzan Ferreira November 5, 2019 - 2:02 pm

I usually air dry as well. The flavor is still pretty intense using that simple, no energy method. Thank you for reading a commenting…never too late 🙂

Reply
Rosie - GreenRosieLife October 18, 2019 - 6:30 am

I generally freeze or infuse in vinegar but you have so many more great idea here – I am going to try oxymel and different pestos now! Thank you for the inspiration and for linking up to #GoingGreen

Reply
Suzan Ferreira October 18, 2019 - 11:25 am

You are so welcome, Rosie! Thank you for reading.

Reply
Melissa October 16, 2019 - 12:56 pm

Hey Suzan! Love your post! Thanks for sharing it at Farm Fresh Tuesdays last week.
Congrats! I picked you as a feature at this week’s hop!
Each host chooses their own features so be sure and visit! 😃

Melissa | Little Frugal Homestead

Reply
Suzan Ferreira October 16, 2019 - 2:49 pm

Thank you so much, Melissa! I’m honored to be featured and look forward to this special party 🙂

Reply
Lisa Lombardo October 14, 2019 - 11:04 am

Wonderful information, Suzan! I’m featuring your post on Farm Fresh Tuesdays this week! Thanks so much for sharing!

Reply
Suzan Ferreira October 14, 2019 - 3:56 pm

Thank you for the feature, Lisa, and for reading!

Reply
T.M. October 14, 2019 - 10:55 am

I love the idea of drying my own herbs, but have just never come around to doing it. This is a great post and I’m definitely taking notes so I can give this a try.

Reply
Suzan Ferreira October 14, 2019 - 3:57 pm

Good to hear, Tina! So glad it was of use for you.

Reply
Marilyn Lesniak October 13, 2019 - 6:19 pm

Congratulations! Your post was my feature pick at #OverTheMoon this week. Each Hostess displays their own features so be sure to visit me on Sunday evening and to see your feature! I invite you to leave more links to be shared and commented upon. Please don’t forget to add your link numbers or post title so we can be sure to visit!

Reply
Cindy October 10, 2019 - 2:13 am

These are all great suggestions! I’ve most often used air drying. And then I store the herbs in glass jars. I like the idea of freezing in water too.

Reply
Suzan Ferreira October 10, 2019 - 12:29 pm

That’s my main go to as well, Cindy. But I do enjoy them in olive oil as well. Freezing in water is a great way to preserve your fresh herbs in tea as well!

Reply
Jenna October 9, 2019 - 8:15 pm

I love to grow my own herbs, but I’ve never considered preserving them! Thanks for the inspiration, I might have to try some of these methods!

Reply
Suzan Ferreira October 10, 2019 - 12:29 pm

Hope you do, Jenna! Thanks for reading.

Reply
Jasmine October 9, 2019 - 11:41 am

I love that you are living so sustainably! Who knew there were so many ways to preserve herbs! Thank you for sharing you way of life – it’s beneficial to EVERYONE

Reply
Suzan Ferreira October 9, 2019 - 11:58 am

Thank you, Jasmine, I appreciate your kind words!

Reply
Michelle October 9, 2019 - 4:06 am

This is such great advice! I have never heard of freezing in olive oil before! I would say we air dry most often with our Rosemary.

Reply
Jane October 9, 2019 - 3:07 am

You always impress me with your knowledge about sustainable living & healthy lifestyle. I didn’t know that there are so many ways to preserve herbs. And I never heard of oxymel or fire cider either . I’m going to explore more of this on your site this weekend.

Reply
Suzan Ferreira October 9, 2019 - 11:59 am

Thank you, Jane. I’m so glad I’ve inspired you to research a bit further. If I can be of any help, please let me know 🙂

Reply
Jennifer Morrison October 9, 2019 - 2:52 am

These are wonderful ideas. I very much want to start growing herbs in my garden, and I love the various ideas for preserving them. Thanks!

Reply
Junell DuBois October 8, 2019 - 9:14 pm

I need to remember to do this! Our herb garden takes off in the spring and we end up with more than we can use, but by the time I remember to do something with it, the Texas heat has fried everything.

Reply
Suzan Ferreira October 9, 2019 - 12:00 pm

LOL, Mother Nature does tend to have the last word.

Reply
judean October 8, 2019 - 6:49 pm

I admire you and your knowledge of so many things. I am not one to use fresh herbs but if I need too, I definitely know where to point to.

Reply
Adrienne October 8, 2019 - 5:16 pm

Wow, what a great list. I hadn’t heard of several of these methods. Thanks for sharing!

Reply
Haley October 8, 2019 - 3:29 pm

Thos is great advice for our ND winters!

Reply
Jody October 10, 2019 - 1:29 am

This is so neat awesome information thank you for sharing.

Reply
Lisa October 8, 2019 - 3:09 pm

These tips will come in handy for our leftover herbs. Thank you for sharing.

Reply
Matt Epley October 8, 2019 - 2:10 pm

I’m just getting started with gardening and cooking healthier, so I’m always looking for ways to make my new hobby less wasteful and more efficient. Your posts are always so straight-forward and in a voice that’s makes things seem so easy and undaunting. Thank you!

Reply
Suzan Ferreira October 8, 2019 - 7:14 pm

I’m so glad you found it useful Matt & happy to hear of your new hobby!

Reply
Erika October 8, 2019 - 12:43 pm

Suzan! This is great and so helpful. I never heard of so many of these and am excited to try! Especially freezing them in oils and waters. How easy is that!

Reply
Suzan Ferreira October 8, 2019 - 7:15 pm

I know right? So simple yet so spot on 🙂

Reply
Pauline October 8, 2019 - 12:24 pm

I usually air dry mine. Or freeze them in a paste. I’ve never thought of the ways you suggested here, so I’ll have to try them next year. I do dehydrate and smoke my garlic.

Reply
Kendra October 8, 2019 - 12:17 pm

Thanks for this comprehensive list. I think I’ll try the olive oil version with all of my parsley and oregano this year.

Reply
Lisa October 8, 2019 - 10:46 am

We just started growing some herbs, this is great to know!

Reply
Lucie Palka October 8, 2019 - 1:09 am

Wow, I never knew there were so many ways of preserving herbs. I thought drying them was it! I really like the idea of freezing in olive oil.

Reply
Suzan Ferreira October 8, 2019 - 7:16 pm

Simple to do & easily accessible when needed. Thanks so much for reading Lucie!

Reply
Kelly October 8, 2019 - 12:52 am

Such a great list of ideas! Thank you so much, as always, for sharing with us on the Homestead Blog Hop. Can’t wait for more this Wednesday 🙂

Reply
Suzan Ferreira October 8, 2019 - 7:17 pm

Thanks, Kelly! Looking forward to stopping by 🙂

Reply
Leslie October 8, 2019 - 12:36 am

This is very timely, I have a bumper crop of rosemary that I don’t want to lose. Thanks for all the great information!

Reply
Stacey Billingsley October 7, 2019 - 10:39 pm

I’ve never grown my own herbs before, but my older daughter has taken an interest and started growing her own this summer. I really like mint. She hasn’t starting drying them yet. I’ll pass this post on to her. So informative!

Reply
Suzan Ferreira October 8, 2019 - 7:17 pm

Thank you, Stacey. I hope she finds it useful as well!

Reply
Kristen Usrey October 7, 2019 - 10:36 pm

I love all your wonderful tips!

Reply
Jen October 7, 2019 - 9:48 pm

I often think how nice it would be to have fresh herbs year round, but have always felt the process to learn how to achieve this would be daunting. Thank you for breaking this down in an easy to follow and understand way.

Reply
Tricia Snow October 7, 2019 - 9:47 pm

What great ideas! I just replanted my herb garden after many years of not doing one. I love the ice cube tray idea!

Reply
Sustainable Responsible Living October 7, 2019 - 9:32 pm

Thanks for sharing, love the idea of freezing herbs in oil – so much of my vigorous growing sage is going into the compost, which really is a shame… #goinggreen

Reply
Sonia October 7, 2019 - 9:26 pm

Such great ideas! I’m always looking for new ways to use herbs as our growing season is short here in Ontario.

Reply
Karen October 7, 2019 - 8:37 pm

I wish I had some to preserve. My garden must have some kind of preditor in it and nothing will grow. 🙁 This post was very informative though.

Reply
Michelle October 7, 2019 - 8:10 pm

Love this! I love freezing my herbs with oil, makes dinner prep so much faster. Thank you for such a great post!

Reply
Suzan Ferreira October 8, 2019 - 7:20 pm

Definitely does at that! Thank you so much for reading, Michelle.

Reply
Connie October 7, 2019 - 7:32 pm

Since I have a huge herb garden I am going to try some of your suggestions. I think I will first try freezing in olive oil. I did do the freeze in water but I might like the olive oil best. I will let you know.

Reply
Suzan Ferreira October 8, 2019 - 7:21 pm

Please do, Connie. I enjoy and use the olive oil method for cooking, but also love the water method with herbs I use in herbal tea. Thanks so much for stopping by!

Reply
Angela October 7, 2019 - 6:37 pm

Lots of great herb ideas here! IN salt is a new one for me.

Reply
Tiffany October 7, 2019 - 6:30 pm

Great ideas – never know what to do with leftover herbs, even when I buy them from the store!

Reply
Lee Anne October 7, 2019 - 4:07 pm

Very useful guide. Thanks for sharing!! Also, love the photos!

Reply
Suzan Ferreira October 7, 2019 - 6:55 pm

Thank you, Lee Anne! So glad you stopped by!

Reply
jen October 7, 2019 - 3:41 pm

Brilliant. I love this so much! I have tons of basil i’ll be preserving

Reply
Suzan Ferreira October 7, 2019 - 6:58 pm

Glad you found this of use. You may want to check out this post, Beautiful Basil How To Dry & Store Your Yield, as it goes into drying large harvests of basil if you haven’t already. Thanks so much for reading!

Reply
Robin Frields October 7, 2019 - 3:35 pm

Great ideas! I would have never thought to preserve in honey, but it makes so much sense 🙂 Thanks!

Reply
Magan October 7, 2019 - 2:31 pm

I always love your tips and tricks! I see a lot of this as highly intimidating, lol, but your posts make it seem like it may not be so difficult!

Reply
Suzan Ferreira October 7, 2019 - 2:40 pm

So not difficult, Magan. But so worth the time to do! Thanks for reading!!

Reply
Rachel October 7, 2019 - 2:30 pm

I didn’t realize there were so many ways to preserve. This is really useful information! 😊

Reply
susa October 7, 2019 - 2:30 pm

Oh my I learned so much. I even took notes… thank you.

Reply
Suzan Ferreira October 7, 2019 - 2:41 pm

Glad you found it useful…and took notes 🙂

Reply
Holly Bird October 7, 2019 - 2:30 pm

Great tips for all my herbs in my garden! Thank you for sharing this!

Reply
Brittany October 7, 2019 - 2:22 pm

I love all of your suggestions. I have always loved growing my own herbs. Its a very calming and fun activity for me. I will definitely be using some of your suggestions.

Reply
Suzan Ferreira October 7, 2019 - 2:25 pm

Glad to hear, Brittany. Nothing like having access to all that flavor.

Reply
Helen McGonigal October 7, 2019 - 2:00 pm

Wow! So much amazing information in one blog post. Thanks for sharing it all. 🙂

Reply
Suzan Ferreira October 7, 2019 - 2:22 pm

My pleasure, Helen! Thank you for reading.

Reply
Ellen October 7, 2019 - 1:07 pm

You’ve given us so much great information in this post. I live in Buffalo NY and this is the perfect time to use some of this information. I especially love the freezing in water idea – great for soups!

Reply
Suzan Ferreira October 7, 2019 - 2:22 pm

Exactly! So glad you found this article useful!

Reply
Annette, Four Acorns / Quatre graines de chêne October 7, 2019 - 12:40 pm

Never thought there would be so ways of preserving herbs, and I’d certainly never heard about oxymels before! Thanks for sharing all those tips on #GoingGreen

Reply
Suzan Ferreira October 7, 2019 - 2:23 pm

Many thanks for reading, Annette!

Reply
Leta October 7, 2019 - 11:37 am

This is so useful, thank you! We do sometimes end up throwing away when we have an abundance, so will be putting these into practice.

Reply
Suzan Ferreira October 7, 2019 - 2:24 pm

So glad to hear, Leta. Thank you for stopping by.

Reply
Lori Roach October 2, 2019 - 9:26 pm

I have air-dried and frozen herbs, made pesto, and made vinegar infusions. The rest of these were all new to me! Oxymels? Never heard of them before! What a great learning experience, this post has opened my eyes to new ways of saving and preserving my harvest. Thank you, Suzan!

Reply
Suzan Ferreira October 4, 2019 - 11:11 am

Thank you so much, Lori! Enjoy those preserved herbs 🙂

Reply

Leave a Comment

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

Privacy & Cookies Policy