I’m all about finding ways to reduce food waste, and herbs can be one of the worst culprits. You buy a bunch for a recipe, use the small amount that you needed and the rest are left to wilt and get sad. It’s part of the reason I grow so many of my own now! I thought I would share some of my favourite ways to use excess herbs, and I’d love to hear yours too!
This is a particularly excellent way to use excess herbs like rosemary and thyme – basically any of the hardier herbs. Simply tie them in bunches and hang them upside down somewhere cool and dry until the herbs have completely dried out. Then simply crush and store in jars to use in your cooking.
One of my favourite ways to use excess herbs is by freezing them. I pop chopped herbs in my ice cube tray, top with olive oil or vegetable stock and freeze. Then you can just pop them out as needed to make pretty much anything – pasta sauces, risotto, soups – you name it. So easy and so useful.
Most of us only use basil in our homemade pesto, but herbs like mint, coriander and parsley also make for excellent pesto. Make any flavour combo that takes your fancy then pop it in an ice cube tray or muffin tin and freeze. Once frozen store in an air tight container in the freezer until you’re ready to use them. Such a delicious way to use excess herbs!
Make herb butter
This is another freezer friendly and delicious option! It’s a simple as softening butter and mixing through a combo of minced herbs and spices (garlic, lemon zest, chilli) and rolling it in to a log. Wrap tightly then freeze and you’ll have seriously versatile and tasty herby butter on hand to add a flavour bunch to your cooking.
Step up your salads
I love using heaps and heaps of herbs in my salads – not only are they delicious but they are a great way to use up herbs too! A tabbouli style salad is an excellent place to start, but you can add additional herbs to pretty much anything you are whipping up.
If you don’t want to use them in the salad itself, then a herby vinaigrette or creamy dressing adds an excellent punch to your salad. It works best with herbs that have lots of flavour (chives are one of my favourite), and make sure to chop them nice and fine so they mix in the dressing evenly.
Infuse oil or vinegar
Flavoured oils and vinegars can really elevate your cooking, but you don’t have to spend a bomb to buy them – make them your own. For vinegar, choose a base that is not too overpowering (I like red or white wine vinegar) and simply combine roughly half a cup of your excess herb with two cups of vinegar, shake to combine and leave to infuse for around 10 days. Strain out the herbs and store in the fridge for 6 months. So simple.
Flavoured oil is just as easy. Pick a neutral oil, combine it with your herbs, heat gently then strain the herbs out. Leave to cool and then pop in the fridge – I told you it was simple!