Your desired use will determine the way you preserve them:
- Drying is perfect for teas.
- Freezing offers fresh tastes even during the cold winter.
- Tinctures or glycerites are great tonics if you want an immunity enhance.
- Oils and vinegars are full of the minerals and vitamins from the herbs, not captured in the tinctures and may be used in your cooking.
Hang herbs upside down in a dry, dark, well-ventilated location. Attics are ideal for this. Put a paper bag around them to avoid dust.
Put them in a jar once they are dry. Use a glass container, not plastic and place away from direct sunlight or heat. Your basement or a closet is perfect.
Freezing can be achieved in 2 ways:
- Clean and dry the fresh herbs and put on a cookie sheet in the freezer. When they are frozen, place them in freezer bags. A few herbs may turn brown or dark after freezing, but the flavor remains preserved.
- Another way is to mix the herbs in some water or oil and freeze in ice cube trays. Employ 2 cups washed leaves to 1 ½ cups water or 6 cups leaves to ½ cup oil. Freeze then place in freezer bags. Just add the cubes to your recipes.
You can make tinctures with alcohol or vegetable glycerin, which is technically a glycerite.
Alcohol should be 80-100 proof. Use fresh herbs if you can ,. The ratio is 1:2 for fresh, i.e. 50g of fresh herb per 100g of menstruum. The ratios for dried are 1:5, i.e. 50g of dried herb for 250g of menstruum.
Put the herbs in a jar, cover completely with the liquid and cap. Place in a cool, dark place – back to the basement, for 4-6 weeks shaking daily. Always label your tinctures with the date. When done, strain the herbs off with gauze and bottle the liquid.
Normally ½ to 1 teaspoon, 3 times a day is a good dosage. As with anything medicinal, if you see an allergic reaction like rash, trouble breathing etc., cease use immediately.
Herb infused oils are fantastic to employ in cooking, but also if you want to make a salve or ointment, you already have the base ready. They’re also perfect for massage or liniments.
Only use fresh virgin olive oil. Fill a jar ¾ full of fresh chopped herbs. Put oil to cover the herbs to ¼ inch below the jar top. Put a piece of gauze over the jar top and secure with the metal ring. This will let the moisture to escape and keep the oil from becoming rancid. Place in a warm, sunny location for a minimum of 14 days, stirring daily. After you have let the oil steep, strain off the herbs and cap. Store in a cool, dark location.
Tincturing draws out the therapeutic properties of herbs, but not the minerals and vitamins. The best choice is to use raw, organic apple cider vinegar. Always use fresh herbs. Lightly position the herbs in a jar, don’t jam. Cover with vinegar and top with a plastic lid. If you haven’t one, put some plastic wrap over the jar and screw down the lid. Label your jar with the date. Shake daily for 6 weeks. Strain and store. Use to marinate meats, fish, vegetables, or on your salads or take as a tonic, ¼ tsp at a time.