Rosemary is a pungent member of the mint family that is available year-round if you live in a warm climate; however, a rosemary plant may not survive in a colder climate. It is therefore essential that you preserve the herb when you have it available. There a numerous ways to do this.
In the refrigerator
The refrigerator is one of the best places to store fresh herbs, even hardier ones like rosemary. In order to keep your rosemary fresh for the long haul, you will want to protect it from the cold dry air in your refrigerator. You can do this with damp paper towels. Simply wrap your rosemary sprigs in a damp paper towel and place it in a zip lock bag. Seal the bag and place it in the crisper of your refrigerator. This should keep it fresh for up to three weeks. Alternatively, you can place the wrapped rosemary inside a plastic storage container that you can reuse.
In the freezer
If you need to store your fresh rosemary for longer than a few weeks, freezing is a great option. There are two options: freeze the sprigs individually, or in ice cube form. To freeze the sprigs individually, wash them and then dry them thoroughly. Next, place them on a cookie sheet in a single layer and then into your freezer for about 30 minutes. Once they are frozen, remove the sprigs from the cookie sheet and place them into freezer bags for long-term storage. This method allows the sprigs to freeze separately so that you can remove individual ones for use in your dishes without having to thaw out a whole bunch.
The ice cube method involves chopping the rosemary into smaller pieces and placing them into the compartments of an ice cube tray. You should then add water to the compartments and freeze. Remove the cubes and place them into freezer bags for long-term storage. When you need the herb, simply toss a cube or two into your dish for the flavor of fresh rosemary.
The drying process can remove some of fresh rosemary’s characteristic pungency; however, dried rosemary can last for longer than frozen or refrigerated rosemary and does not take up freezer or refrigerator space. For drying, you have multiple options; they include:
Using a food dehydrator
Preheat the dehydrator with its thermostat set to 90 degrees. If you live in an area with high humidity, you may need a higher temperature. It may be necessary to go as high as 125 degrees. Place your rosemary in a single layer on the dehydrator trays and dry for at least an hour. When the rosemary is brittle and crumbles easily, it is dry.
Place the rosemary sprigs on parchment paper on a cookie sheet and then into an oven set to 125 degrees. If you are willing to wait and have a gas stove, you can just let the pilot light do the work. Rosemary is thicker and woodier than most herbs, which means that drying can take a couple of days.
Spread the rosemary sprigs on a layer of paper towels. Place them into a microwave and cover with another layer of paper towels. Microwave on high for one minute and then for 20 seconds at a time until the herbs are dry enough to crumble.
Rosemary’s hardiness makes it ideal for air drying. Simply hang a bundle of rosemary sprigs in any part of your home that has dry, moving air.