I love that fresh herbs can really bring a new dimension to any dish. They always add an extra lift to a meal that packets of dried herbs just can’t match. But how often do you find yourself with too many herbs? Perhaps you could only buy a large bunch from the shops or maybe that oregano plant needs cutting back. Whatever the reason, why not try out some of the ideas below to make your herbs go that little bit further.
How to store fresh herbs?
If store bought, make sure that you take them out of the plastic bag as soon as possible.
Many people will tell you not to wash herbs until you’re ready to use them but it’s actually ok to rinse them. Just make sure that you use a paper towel or cloth to blot away any moisture when you’re done.
Remove any wilted or discoloured leaves.
Treat your herbs like flowers. Trim the stems and put them in a glass in an inch of cold water.
If you can, keep them in the fridge, covered with a sandwich bag.
What can I do with my leftover herbs?
There are lots of ways to make use of extra fresh herbs. Many of which will extend the life of your fresh herbs so you won’t have to worry about them turning limp.
They’re all simple solutions, cheap and you’ll never have to throw away fresh herbs ever again!
Make sure your herbs are well rinsed and dry before placing them on a flat baking tray and putting them in the freezer for an hour (or until frozen). Transfer them into airtight containers and put them back into the freezer.
Once frozen, they should last for a couple of months in the freezer.
When you’re ready to use them, there’s no need to defrost them. Just put them straight into soups, stews, curries or pasta dishes…or whatever dish needs an infusion of herbs.
You could even freeze the herbs in water in an ice cube tray to make fun ice cubes for party drinks.
There are three main methods for drying herbs at home. You can air dry them, oven dry or dry them in the microwave. Dried herbs will last for six to twelve months and are often more flavoursome than the dried herbs that you buy from the shops.
Make a herb butter
Just chop up your leftover herbs and mix them with softened butter until combined. Shape into a log and put in the fridge until you’re ready to use. Slice into butter discs and either melt and use as a sauce or place on top of freshly cooked meat or fish
You can also wrap the log in baking paper and place it in the freezer. It will last for around 6 months once frozen.
Or how about making a garlic herb butter and spreading it on toasted baguette for homemade garlic bread?
Use them in flavoured water
Tear up your herbs, put them in a jug/pitcher and press them slightly with the back of a wooden spoon (muddling) to release the full flavour of the herbs.
You can use any herbs you like to flavour your water. Think basil for a peppery tang, mint for a refreshing twist, rosemary for a lemony punch or thyme for earthy, minty tones.
Use them in cocktails
Similar to the flavoured water idea, why not add some herbs to your next cocktail? If it’s a hot day, why not make a delicious cooling cocktail or mocktail to quench your thirst.
The main base spirit for cocktails with herbs are either gin or vodka, as these pairings seem to work best with herbs. Although you could experiment with whatever you wanted.
Have you tried some of these combinations?…
Rosemary – How about making a rosemary infused vodka as a base for a cocktail?
Lavender – add a sprig of lavender to your next G&T to give it a twist of flavour.
Thyme lemonade – this sounds so refreshing!
Sage and raspberry smash – Not only does this sound amazing, it looks so pretty too!
Add into a smoothie
Have you ever thought of adding herbs to your next homemade smoothie? It’s guaranteed to give your body a healthy boost.
Sage helps to boost your memory, tarragon is full of antioxidants, basil is a good source of iron and cilantro will help lower blood sugar levels. What’s not to love about adding herbs to a smoothie?!
Try some of these…
Make a herby pesto
Don’t limit yourself to a basil pesto. Yes, basil is delicious but have you thought of trying a coriander pesto? Or a chive pesto? Or a parsley pesto? If you’re feeling extra adventurous – how about a combination of all three?
Have it on pasta with freshly grated Parmesan cheese or spread on toast and top with fresh tomatoes for a homemade bruschetta.
If you make a lot of pesto and know that you’re not going to use it all up in one go, you can also freeze it.
Make herby stock cubes and store them in an ice cube tray
Next time you’re making stock, add heaps of freshly chopped herbs and freeze them into cubes using an ice cube tray. They will make a great base for soups or sauces and add an extra punch of flavour to any dish.
Olive oil infusion
Fill a pretty bottle with extra virgin olive oil, add several cloves of garlic, some chilli flakes or whole chillies (if you want) and then throw in freshly washed herbs. Leave to infuse and you’ll have a delicious flavoured olive oil.
In a nice bottle and a ribbon, it would make a lovely homemade gift too.
So there you have it, 9 awesome things that you can make or do with your leftover fresh herbs. Never waste your fresh herbs ever again!