Preserving herbs is a favorite task. The kitchen smells incredible, and the garden is harvested in one day. I will admit, we practically had to rake the floor when we were done, but the result is worth the mess!
We challenged mother nature this year and prayed for an extra week without a frost, and we were rewarded! (This is Buffalo, NY, after all … other years we have not been so fortunate!) The herb garden has been a prolific blessing all summer, and it physically hurts to have it finally end. We will be pulling out the Aero Garden our son gifted us with, and setting up a winter herb garden in another month or two, but nothing beats herbs grown organically with nothing but the warm summer sun and cool rains to nurture them. We aren’t wasting a single stem.
It’s simple, but messy. Preserving herbs in olive oil is a project best left for a wide open day and maybe with a helper or two. The labor is in removing the tender leaves and needles. Clear off the kitchen counters and have at it. There are silly little tools made for separating the leaves from the stems, but the very best way is to grasp the top of the stem, and pull down with a pinching motion, against the growth, which releases the leaves and needles from their stem. There is a video to demonstrate this here. Make little piles of leaves and when you are finally ready, your food processor is your best friend.
Place the collected leaves from one plant in the blender, add a liberal splash of olive oil, and let ‘er rip! No real recipe here. Just add enough oil to let it blend smoothly and easily. Then, spoon the mixture into ice cube trays. Or, in the case of the thyme, (above,) just float a few leaves in the already-poured oil. We love these trays from OXO, as they are approximately 1 Tablespoon each, and the lids keep the oil from spilling.
If you live in a location where you still have herbs in your garden, have at it! Preserving herbs is a project, but you won’t regret it!