Herbs are plants with medicinal properties. As soon as the plant is harvested it starts to die and so does everything in it. Luckily there are ways to preserve the plant so that it can be stored and used later. However, you have to store the preserved plant materials so that there’s no further loss of nutrition so that when you go to use them, there’s as much nutrition available to you as possible.
How To Store Herbs
The number one rule to storing herbs in a way that preserves as much of their medicinal properties as possible is to store them in a cool, dark, dry place.
Moisture will cause herbs to mold, and light and heat will further diminish the health benefits they have.
When not using fresh herbs immediately (whether in foods or in herbal preparations) they can be stored for a short time in the refrigerator. Flowers and tops will last 2-3 days, while bark and roots will stay good for 2-3 weeks. Be sure to store fresh herbs in labeled bags or jars and use them quickly.
Dried herbs can last anywhere from 2-4 years if stored properly depending upon the type of herb.
First of all, if you’re drying herbs yourself, make sure they are completely dry or they will mold in storage and be ruined. Store herbs in air tight glass jars or plastic bags in a cool, dark, and dry spot.
Delicate herbs such as flowers or leaves won’t last as long as seeds or roots will. Herbs high in volatile oils, like peppermint and chamomile, will loose their freshness sooner than herbs without oils like oatstraw or plantain.
Once herbs are powdered, they will lose their freshness fairly quickly. Powdered herbs are best stored in glass jars wrapped in newspaper or some other opaque paper in the freezer or refrigerator. I personally would use powdered herbs within 3 months.
Storing Herbal Preparations
Once you’ve used your herbs in your own formulations, whether it’s a salve or a tincture, you still need to remember to store your preparation so that it will last.
Remember… cool, dark, and dry is always best no matter what type of preparation it is because the longer your preparation is exposed to heat or light, the quicker the properties in it will break down.
I’ll be sharing about storage times for the different herbal preparations in the coming posts. Stay tuned!