The best time to gather herbs is in the morning. Gather the leaves as early in the day as possible, after the dew has dried, but before the sun gets hot.
Fresh herbs with long stems, such as dill, parsley, and basil will keep in a glass of water in the refrigerator for two to three weeks. Cover the herbs loosely with a clear plastic bag and change the water every three days.
When drying herbs, hang them upside down in clean brown paper bags. The bags keep out light and catch any seeds or leaves that may fall off the stems.
Before placing herbs in the freezer, strip leaves from their stems and lay in a single layer on a baking sheet. Once the leaves are frozen pack them in freezer bags or containers. The leaves won’t mat together and it will be easier to take a pinch of frozen herbs as you need them.
To keep dried spices and herbs longer, store them in the freezer rather than in the cabinet.
Garlic cloves will peel easier if you first separate the heads and then pour boiling water over the individual cloves. Let them stand for five minutes, then drain and cover with cold water until cool.
Mince garlic along with fresh herbs. The herbs add bulk to make mincing easier and also catch the garlic oil that ends up on the cutting board. Also shortens prep time when preparing pasta sauce. Just add the minced garlic and herbs to the simmering sauce.
Cold dried parsley: Rinse off fresh parsley, pat it dry and place it in a brown paper lunch bag in the refrigerator. In about a month, the parsley will have dried, but will still be very green and aromatic, much more so than plain dried parsley. You can add it to dishes as you need it; just place some of the parsley between your thumb and index finger and crumble the leaves. Don’t substitute a plastic bag for the paper one- the parsley will rot instead of drying.
~ Meadow Walker