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Preserving Basil and Drying Herbs

As temperatures start to cool down, some of our perennial herbs will disappear or diminish for the winter and come back next spring. Annual herbs like basil will die with the first serious nip.

Here’s how to enjoy them all year-round.

Drying:

  • Lemon verbena and peppermints dry well for a heart-warming cup of tea on a frosty day (or in a cold drink later)!
  • Strip the leaves off the stems and dry on a flat tray indoors in a cool, well-ventilated spot. Stir every few days. Once they’re crunchy-dry, put them in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid.
  • With catnip, it’s sometimes nice to dry it by hanging it up. Tie the stems with a rubber band since the stems dry as they shrink. Use the dried leaves for tea or to keep your cats happy.You can also dry it in a box or tray, out of paws’ reach!
  • Mexican marigold mint is one of my favorites to cook with for its licorice flavor (a Texas substitute for tarragon). The fall yellow flowers are beautiful, too. It does freeze back in the winter but will return in the spring. Simply cut it to the ground in spring clean-up. It will pop up with the first warm weather.
  • You can dry it in a box or tray, or hang in the kitchen. Cut a few stems off with the flowers for a bit of color, secure with a rubber band and add a pretty ribbon.

Preserving Basil:

  • As cold snaps approach, cut your basil and put it into a vase indoors. It will last for several weeks and keep on blooming.
  • You can also preserve it inan oil, which is good for about two weeks in the refrigerator.
  • Make pesto to store in freezer bags. For just a bit of pesto to add to recipes over the winter, scoop pesto into ice cube trays. Freeze and then store in freezer bags.

Vinegars:

  • You can also make herbal vinegars with any of these herbs (or others you like) to flavor up salad dressings and other recipes.

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