Hawaii has good soil and weather to grow fresh herbs all year ’round. I don’t really have a green thumb, so I only have rosemary and Chinese chives, which don’t require much more care than sun and water in the yard.
Local farmers markets are the best place to buy fresh herbs because they have been cut and sold in days or hours, not weeks like some of the herbs in the grocery store. And they are less expensive, which is always a bonus here in Hawaii!
Looking at all the fresh herbs and you think to yourself, “Self, I can’t possibly use all those herbs all at once!” Buy them. There are a few ways to store and keep those herbs for the next time you need them.
If you are going to be using your herbs over the next few days, you can rinse and cut, then put them in jars or vases with water and keep them on your kitchen counter (see above photo). At the end of the day, put them in the refrigerator and they will keep 3-4 days. You can also put plastic bags over the jars of herbs, which will help them stay fresh 1-2 days longer.
You can also rinse your herbs and wrap them in paper towels, then put them in plastic bags to store in your vegetable drawer, if you don’t have space for the jars.
Now that you have used the herbs and you still have a good amount left, you can dry them and keep them in jars. Store bought dried herbs are non-existent in my house.
To dry your herbs:
- Warm up your oven on the lowest temperature for about 5 minutes and turn it off.
- Take the leaves off the stems, if they have pliable stems (basil, mint,) and put on paper towel lined wire racks. If the herbs have firm stems (rosemary, thyme), they can be left on the stem and taken off after they have dried.
- Place rack in the warmed oven and let dry for 2 hours. I check after 30 minutes to make sure the herbs are not too hot, then again after the 2 hours. I usually leave the herbs overnight.
- If you don’t want to do the oven method, you can also leave the herbs on the rack and dry them on the counter in the sun. I like this method, but it can take 2-5 days for the herbs to be dry.
- Place the dried herbs in air-tight containers and don’t forget to label the herbs. I’m not the only one who cooks in our house and there have been several close calls.
It’s always nice to cook with fresh herbs, they add flavor and color to your recipes. When you use the dried herbs that you dried yourself, you will notice a difference from the store bought dried herbs in your recipes, too
Peace and poi!