Autumn Herb Preservation Notes


OSU Extension Service Workshop 2009

Sue Sierralupé – Instructor

Use of Herbs Culinary vs Medicinal

  • Culinary- focus on preserving flavor in essential oils

  • Culinary presentation – color is in flavonoids

  • Medicinal – focus on preserving constituents for healing properties

  • Entire plant may have medicinal value

Preservation Varieties

Drying Herbs

  • Most herbs can be air dried away from light and dust by hanging it upside down, LABELED, (paper bag over seed heads) and checked to avoid over-drying

  • Check color and texture

  • Lay herbs on newspapers or baskets to preserve small herbs like thyme – LABEL

  • Dry herbs with high water content like parsley, basil, nuts or berries in food dryer, toaster or oven

  • Dry at 150 degrees with oven door ajar and check regularly

  • Dried fruits may be roasted or slow-cooked with meats or veggies – dark fruit with red meat or darkly colored veggies and pale fruit with white meat or veggies

Frozen herbs

  • Herbs like ginger and turmeric preserve well in the freezer for up to 1 year

  • Freeze herbaceous herbs (nettle, basil) like you would spinach

  • Freeze heavily steeped tea into cubes. Add the tea water cubes to cold water to make instant ice tea for later.


  • White vinegar can be used to preserve hot and peppery herbs

  • Apple cider vinegar preserves herbs with more subtle flavors

  • White wine vinegar preserves flavonoid rich herbs like rose petals or calendula best

  • Strain herbs after a few weeks and use vinegar up to one year after creation


  • Culinary oils like garlic oil is best made with olive oil

  • Medicinal oils may be made with cold pressed oils like olive, almond or apricot seed oil

  • Oils may be used to make ointments and salves


  • Culinary herbs preserved in alcohol – herbal wines, beers, liquors, cordials

  • Cordial are easy to make – canning jar 2/3 full of fruit + ½ cup of sugar + brandy or scotch = cordial. Sit for 1 month. Strain out fruit. Let rest 1 week. Strain again. Serve.

  • Tinctures are medicinal alcohol. Most herbs need scotch, brandy or rum. Waxy herbs like myrrh or propolis needs higher amounts of alcohol – everclear

  • To get rid of alcohol ( for alcoholics), stir tincture into hot water, let cool and serve

  • Do not combine herbs until after tinctures are done. Different herbs and different herb parts need different processing times.


  • Cook herbs on stove in water, strain herbs and keep resulting tea, add honey or sugar until sweetener is dissolved and refrigerate labeled for up to one year

  • Glycerites are made the same way that syrups are made but the glycerine in added with the water.

  • Glycerites can be cooked in a slow cooker

Canned Jams, Jellies and Sauces

  • Applesauce can be medicinal for stomach flu

  • Mint jelly is good for eating with lamb or to settle a stomach

  • Try Elderberry or Oregon Grape jam or jelly as medicine

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