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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Parsley Growing Like a Weed?

Parsley Growing Like a Weed?

While fresh herbs are best to cook with, they're not always available. To preserve herbs for year-round use, you can easily dry or freeze them.

Drying Herbs
To dry fresh herbs, simply tie a small bunch of herbs together at the stem and hang them upside down from a wire or rack in a warm, dry room out of direct sunlight. Herbs should dry in 1-2 weeks.

Keep in mind that dried herbs are much stronger than fresh ones. You will need to adjust the amounts when cooking with dried herbs. A good rule of thumb is to use 1/3 to 1/2 of the amount called for. Dried herbs also lose their flavor after one year.

For quicker dried herbs, you can use the oven or microwave. Spread the herbs out on a tray. Then place the tray in an oven set at 100 degrees. "Bake" about 3 hours. Remember to turn the herbs for even drying. For microwaves, use low power and cook for three minutes.

Once the herbs are completely dried, store them in a clean glass jar with a tight lid.

Good drying herbs include: bay leaves, tarragon, thyme, rosemary, oregano, and savory.

Freezing Herbs
Another method of preserving herbs is freezing. Freezing is a great preservation method, especially for herbs being used in a soup or stew. This method has many advantages over drying as it is easier to do, and it doesn't affect the herb's flavor so you can use the same amount as if it was fresh.

Before placing your herbs in the freezer, be sure to first wash and dry thoroughly. You can freeze herbs whole, or use an ice cube tray to freeze chopped herbs. Spray the ice tray with non-stick spray, and then place the chopped herbs into the cubes. Once the herb cubes are frozen solid, remove and store in airtight plastic bags or containers or in freezer jars with tight fitting lids. Label the bags or containers with the type of herb and the current date.

Good herbs to freeze include: dill, parsley, basil, chives, and mint. Homemade pesto made with fresh basil can easily be frozen and kept for later cooking.

Using Herbs in the Kitchen

Here is a brief list of popular herbs with suggestions on ways to use them when cooking.

Basil
Italian, Asian, & Mediterranean dishes
Tomato recipes
Spaghetti sauce
Pesto
Lamb
Fish
Poultry
Veal
Potatoes

Dill Seeds
Soups
Seafood dishes, especially salmon

Mint
Fruit salad
Vegetables (carrots, green beans, spinach, potatoes)
Jelly
Tea

Oregano
Italian dishes
Egg and cheese dishes (omelets, quiches, etc.)
Vegetable soup
Veal stuffing
Marinated vegetables

Rosemary
Meats, especially ham
Halibut, salmon
Rice dishes
Bland soups
Potato dishes
Eggplant

Sage
Cheese dishes
Pork recipes
Artichokes
Duck
Eggplant
Corn
Savory beans
Cabbage squash
Vinegar
Boiled meat
Scrambled eggs
Salad
Butter
Tea

Tarragon
Fish
Vinegar
Salads
Butter sauces (tartar, béarnaise)

Thyme
Meats
Vegetables
Soups
Eggs
Stews
Fish
Clam chowder

If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1910, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.