Fresh herbs can easily be grown in a small indoor garden or in an outside garden. But what do you do when you have an overabundance of herbs?
Cooking with fresh herbs is the best way to get all of the flavor from an herb. But sometimes, we end up with too much! I know I’ve gone to the store, bought a container of herbs, and only used some for a recipe. Or, now that we have our own herb garden growing, I end up with more than I can use.
We’ve been adding fresh herbs as a garnish to a lot of our meals. I like to add some basil leaves to our homemade pizza. We purchased an AeroGarden a few months ago so we never run out of fresh herbs.
Originally Published On: February 26, 2019
Last Updated On: July 23, 2020
Food using Fresh Herbs
Compound butter is butter that has been softened and mixed with fresh or dry herbs. You can easily make this by cutting 8 tablespoons of butter into small chunks, mixing in about 1 tablespoon of herbs, and forming it back together. Refrigerate or freeze until you are ready to use it. Compound butter is a great way to add flavor to bread as well as meat such as steak.
Most pesto recipes are based with basil and parsley. So if you have an excess of these herbs, blend them in a food processor with some garlic, olive oil, and parmesan cheese. Pesto goes great on top of pasta, spread on a sandwich, or as a pizza topping instead of red sauce. There are plenty of uses for pesto, and it will use up a lot of herbs.
Infused Oil & Vinegar
If you are a salad lover, try infusing some olive oil and/or vinegar with some of your favorite herbs. The flavor will seep into the oil and vinegar adding a zing of something extra to your next salad.
Fresh Herb Recipes
Of course, there are so many recipes that use fresh herbs in them. If you have a lot of extra herbs, do a quick search online for recipes using that ingredient.
Ever since I started saving kitchen scraps and learned how easy it is to make vegetable broth at home, I haven’t bought a can. You can make a delicious stock from leftover vegetable scraps and extra herbs. The best part is there’s no set recipe, so you can use up whatever you have on hand.
How to Store Fresh Herbs
When we have a plethora of leftover herbs, I like to dry them out to save for future use. To do this, I cut as much from the plant that needs to be trimmed, and bunch them together with twine. Then, I have a few clips in the laundry room that I use to hang the herbs. Once they have completely dried, I crush them up into storage containers to use in recipes.
I’ve also started using a dehydrator and it works much quicker than hanging to dry. But, if you don’t have a dehydrator, then the hanging method works, too.
Another option to store extra herbs is freezing them. The trick I’ve always heard and tried with extreme success, is to freeze herbs in an ice cube tray with olive oil. The amount of oil will be so small that it shouldn’t effect a recipe, but it’s enough to hold the herbs. Once they are frozen, you can empty the tray and store them in a jar.
Other Uses for Fresh Herbs
Replant to Grow Again
This is commonly known as “scrap gardening” because there are so many kitchen scraps that can be planted and regrown without a lot of effort. Plants typically have all of the cellular information they need in each cell to reproduce. Because of this, you should be able to plant a small stalk from an herb and it will grow again.
Related: How to Start an Indoor Herb Garden
DIY Beauty Products
Making beauty products with kitchen scraps, including herbs, is the one thing on this list that I have not personally tried. But, there are plenty of “recipes” available online that instruct you how to do this. Think about your lavender bath bombs, and how you could make those yourself with fresh herbs.
Share with Neighbors
Be a good neighbor, and share the wealth! I’ve done this before with some of the plants we grow in the garden. One week we had more lettuce than we could ever eat so I gave a head of lettuce to a few of our neighbors. You could do the same with fresh herbs if you have some that are producing more than you can consume.
In my opinion, this is the last place to use up any leftover herbs. We started our own compost, and while the herbs are great “green” items for the bin, it seems like a bit of a waste. There are so many other options to use the herbs in the kitchen before tossing them. But, if you are out of ideas or time or just have way more than you need, compost is still better than throwing in the trash.