Our garden hasn’t done as well as I expected this year. So far, the organic tomato plant has given us five small tomatoes and the plant looks finished. The bell peppers, also organic, are small and slow growing and I don’t really like the taste. The bush variety of cucumbers are delicious, but it isn’t a big producer. I think the containers that we put out front this year need better soil next season and I am not going to bother with organic plants again. Out back, the Husky Cherry Red, a hybrid, is doing well even without much sun. I’ve grown this variety for a few years now, a hearty producer, but it usually doesn’t peak until August.
My herbs on the other hand, are doing fantastic. I grow basil, lemon thyme, rosemary and tarragon. I have grown many herbs over the years, but these are the ones I actually like to cook with and tend to do well in my garden. I also grow chamomile, lavender and have an insane amount of lemon balm, but I haven’t mastered the art of drying or preserving them properly yet.
I have found that the trick to successful herb gardening is first, a good soil and second, understanding how to harvest/prune your herbs. Each herb likes to be cut in a certain part of the plant, once you have that figured out and do it regularly, the plants will grow abundantly.
I tend to use basil most frequently because I love fresh basil added to just about everything and pinching it every couple of days keeps it growing strong. I don’t do a big harvest of basil until the end of the season, then I cut it all down. But this weekend I realized the lemon thyme and rosemary really needed to be harvested and preserved. How do I preserve my herbs you ask? Well I freeze them in oil of course! 🙂
I found this idea on Pinterest actually. It is fairly easy to do and even easier to use. You simply wash and air dry your herbs, prepare them like you would for any recipe, then place them in an ice cube tray and cover them in olive oil.
I found some giant ice cube trays with silicone bottoms which makes removing the herb squares very easy. Once the cubes are frozen (overnight), I place them in a ziplock freezer bag to use in my fall/winter cooking.
You can add them to soups, sauces, casseroles, really just about anything that can tolerate a bit of oil. You can even let a cube or two warm up to room temperature and make a salad dressing with it. The cubes you see here hold about 1.5-2 tablespoons of herbs and 1.5-2 tablespoon of olive oil. I always do more when it comes to herbs and garlic! If you use regular sized ice cube trays, they would probably be half that size.
Have you tried this technique before? Do you have another way to preserve your fresh herbs?