“Putting Up” Herbs

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Much of the country has already put up everything they harvested out of the garden months ago, but here in Texas it’s the end of November and we just got our first freeze a couple of weeks ago. Honestly, preserving herbs can be done almost any time of year and a lot of herbs can give you two or three harvests. You can also do this with leftover store-bought herbs.

I’ve only been gardening for about 18 months, so to me any harvest is big; even if I just get one tomato or a few leaves of basil I’m happy. I did get a bit more than that but really this year was a learning year and while I harvested enough cucumbers to make pickles I really didn’t get enough of anything to “put up,” except in one little area: my herb garden. Turns out for almost magical reasons (some have weed-like qualities…but to me it’s magic) herbs are really easy to grow and thrive even when vegetables die.

Drying herbs and saving them for later (a.k.a. putting up) is just as easy. I had basil, oregano, and thyme to harvest and put up. To harvest the herbs, I took a rubber band in one hand and scissors in the other. After I cut the herbs at the base I wrapped the rubber band around them, tied a rope around them and hung them on a hanger to dry in the garage. After about a week or so this is what they looked like.


Over a bowl gently run your fingers up and down the branch and the leaves should fall off without crumbling.


I found it easier to run my fingers the way the leaves grew – up the branch rather than down the branch.


It’s a good idea to do this outside as there will be some leaves that fall and it’s not always possible to get everything in the bowl.


Here I have basil, thyme, and oregano ready to be packed. I left the leaves whole as that holds in the oils; when I’m ready to use I’ll just crumble with my hands.


 I used a canning jar for final storage.


Then I vacuum sealed the canning jar with a FoodSaver using the FoodSaver attachment for wide mouth jars.


 Once they are labeled they are ready to store in a cool dry place.


If you don’t have a FoodSaver with a canning jar attachment other ideas are: Ziploc bag, dry canning the herbs, or a plastic container stored in the freezer.

  • tater says:

    Another way to seal those jars is to put a hot hands in them, they work as an oxygen absorber…and the jars will seal. I put the bulk of my herbs in a large jar and smaller amounts I leave out to use daily…Those piemento pepper jars work well for the small amounts…celery powder, and dehydrated carrots..spinich powder, anything it takes ” just a litttle” to add flavor to the pot…

    • Jennifer Osuch says:

      Hi Tater,

      I’ve heard people using hot hands before. Personally, I would not want anything that was not food grade to be stored with my food, so I would caution about using them for long term storage.

  • Open says:

    I have all 4 of your previous books, and good thing I came aorscs your post here: it reminded me to check again, and I’ve just ordered part 2 of Holding their own .Thank you very much for your books.I really hope to see more tactical preparedness books from you.There are so many books on survival related to wilderness, food, medicine, etc., but your are the only books that I know which teach how to survive the inevitable violence.Apparently, the list of books in this article is good, and I have most of them, but I would not hesitate to add 2 or 3 of your books to the Top-20 list.By the way, Urban Survival by David Morris would definitely make the list, too.I just don’t understand how canning food can possibly more important than self-defense.Obviously, some people (if those are really the best-selling books on Amazon) believe that they will be able to eat lots of good food, and their towns or cities around them will just die out of starvation Yeah, right.My priorities are:1. Self-defense. I have a family and 2 kids. We have bullet-proof vests and gas masks. My loved ones must live, even if it’s hell outside the house. They will live. Period.2. Water and food.3. Emergency medicine and training.We don’t have gold or silver. If we were millionaires, we’d probably worry about investments , but not an issue. I’d rather buy another bag of rice from Costco or a pack of ammo than an ounce of metal that I can neither eat not shoot.I digress Thank you very much for your books, Sir!They are in MY list.

  • I get piles of herbs from the farm share, so I’m thankful for this post for ideas to dry them. I’m good for putting up basil, and my rosemary and thyme hang out in the garden until I need them, but the sage and farm share thyme need help.

    Thanks for an easy to follow post!

  • Great post! I had a fairly good harvest this year, mainly in tomatoes and peppers. I have not yet gotten any herbs planted. It’s on my list for this coming garden, and I LOVE that you show what to do with them once the season is over! I’ve been wondering the best way to preserve them. Thanks for sharing!

  • JD says:

    You might also want to look at tincturing to store your medicinal herb harvest. I’m also in North Texas and have been gathering up the Fall harvests of Dandelion, Gotu Kola, Jiaogulan, Marshmallow, Holy Basil and Echinacea and tincturing them into extracts that will keep for years.

    Great blog and appreciate you participating in mine.

    Making herbal tinctures: http://www.mylifeinthedirt.com/herbal-medicine/making-herbal-tinctures-101/

  • Thank you for the reply! I am really intrigued about the attachment and will look for it next.

    The herbs are in our garage currently; two windows and the panes in the large door give them an ok amount of sun. We plan to build a sunroom/ greenhouse on the side of the house in our long-term plans for some year-round gardening.

    Thank you for visiting my blog — please don’t be turned off by the current design. We are in the middle of a re-design and I can’t wait for it to be live on the site — that will be early January.

    I have so much more to write about, including our recent home pig butchering and sausage making … soon!

  • If your plants are in a place where they can get sun they should last and you can have fresh herbs all winter. If you are like me and have too many indoor plants………….:) Drying might be an option for you. The canning attachment for the foodsaver is a pretty cool tool. You can vacuum pack anything you can fit into a canning jar. Dried bean, herbs, spices, flour, tea, coffee, small fruit keep in the refrigerator (berries), and my very favorite thing to keep is my own dehydrated fruits and vegetables.

    I just discovered your blog. It’s a wealth of information on food storage!

    Thanks so much for commenting and your feedback.

  • Thank you for this helpful step-by step guide (and pictures). I brought my potted basil, thyme and oregano plants in to keep them from freezing. Do you think they would last through the winter, or should I preserve them by drying?

    Also, we have the foodsaver but not the canning attachment. What is it good for — do you use it often?

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