Welcome to the Order of the Sacred Star! This Pagan/Wiccan group, based in Winnipeg, Canada, is committed to teaching the Craft to all those who wish to learn. Our goal is to provide a complete and fulfulling learning experience. Our public classes are offered through the Winnipeg Pagan Teaching Circle.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Herbology: Storing Herbs

Unless  have a greenhouse where you can grow fresh herbs all year 'round, at some point you'll have to store herbs for future use. Fresh herbs can be stored in plastic bags in the refrigerator, usually with a paper towel to absorb excess moisture, but this only works for a week or two. Eventually you'll have to store dried herbs.

Before you even attempt to store your herbs, make sure they're truly dry. Any hint of moisture and they're mold in short order. So give your herbs time to dry thoroughly before you attempt to store them.

Once they are dry, the best way to store them is with a vacuum-pack system. You can purchase these systems at most cookware or home stores. There are two downsides to a vacuum system. First of all, they can be expensive and not everyone wants to spend that money for storing herbs (even though the vacuum system can be used for other foods as well). The second problem is one of convenience. Every time you open a package to get a teaspoon of herbs, you have to cut open a package and reseal it with the vacuum system. That can get annoying.

So if you opt not to use a vacuum-pack system, your next best choice is glass jars. You can get jars in all sizes from almost any grocery or home store, and you can get them in a variety of sizes. I like the smaller ones because I rotate my stock frequently, though I use larger jars for the herbs I use a lot of. Before you actually store anything in these jars, sterilize them with boiling water and dry them thoroughly. This will help protect the herbs from bacteria and keep them fresh longer.

Always store dried herbs in cool and dry place. They should also be kept out of direct sunlight. I use a cupboard with a solid door and good ventilation, one that I only open one or twice a day. This seems to work well, but any place that keeps the herbs cool and dry should work well enough.

Even dried herbs don't last forever, so make sure you rotate your stock. I like to make sure jars are emptied and replaced at least every six months. Since I use my herbs faster than that, this isn't usually an issue. But I do write dates on my jars just in case. After six months, dried herbs really do lose their potency, so make sure you're not using herbs that have been in the jars for a year.

Some fresh herbs can be frozen, but this doesn't work as well as drying them and storing them appropriately. Whatever method you choose for storing your herbs, make sure you label your herbs. It's not going to help to have no idea what's in each jar or bag.

No comments:

Post a Comment