What to do with your surplus of herbs?

What to Do With Your Surplus of Herbs

4 min read

Did you plant or purchase too many herbs this season? Well here’s the good news, having too many is not a thing. Give you and your herbs a little time together, we’re talking no more than an hour, and you’ll end up wishing you had planted another row. And if reading this makes you feel guilty for not gardening, hush that critical voice and go find a farmer’s market. Like our tips on preserving tomatoes, corn, and peaches, you can take an excess of green goods (small to large pile) and make them into something to share or save. Make that bruschetta and Caprese salad today, and if you have extra here is what to do with your surplus of herbs.

What to do with a surplus of herbs

Chop your herbs and freeze portions in oil, butter, or water.

Whether you have a few tablespoons leftover from last night’s dinner or you intentionally chop your herbs to freeze, try for 2 teaspoons of herbs for each portion you make. Use an ice cube tray or silicone baking mold. Top chopped herbs with oil, clarified butter, melted butter, or water. If using oil or butter, figure about 2 teaspoons of herbs to 1 or 2 tablespoons of fat. If you are preserving herbs in water, fill compartment halfway and tuck in the herbs as best as possible. Freeze for one hour and pour more water on top to cover all the herbs that floated to the top, return to freezer. Once herb cubes are frozen, remove from ice cube tray and freeze cubes in airtight containers until ready to use. As a result, cubes are great for roasted vegetables, sautéing meat, or added to soups and sauces.

  • Active prep time: 5 minutes
  • Total time: 15 minutes

What to do with your surplus of herbs

Steep a handful of herbs in homemade simple syrup.

Making simple syrup is a quick and easy staple to have in your fridge for sweetening anything from cocktails, sparkling waters, desserts, sauces, and iced teas. In a small saucepan, pour equal amounts of sugar, honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar to equal parts water. Heat until simmering and all sugars are dissolved into a syrup. To make one of the following flavored syrups, take syrup off the heat, submerge herbs, and cover for 30 minutes to steep. Finally, let cool and strain out the wilted herbs. Syrup can be stored in the refrigerator for about a month. Might we suggest a Gimlet made with basil syrup replacing the usual simple syrup or an iced white tea and a touch of honey thyme syrup to sweeten? Yes, please! Here are the measurements we used:

  • Basil Simple Syrup – 1/2 cup sugar or agave to 1/2 cup water, add a small handful of basil, 5-8 leaves to steep.
  • Honey thyme Syrup – 1/2 cup honey to 1/2 cup water, add 3-4 sprigs of thyme to steep.
  • Maple Rosemary Syrup – 1/2 cup maple syrup to 1/2 cup water, add 5-inch sprig of rosemary leaves picked to steep.

What to do with your surplus of herbs

  • Active prep time: 5 minutes
  • Total time: 45 minutes

Purée your large pile of basil leaves into pesto.

It’s not new, and it also doesn’t grow old. There are so many satisfying ways to use pesto and as many different ways to make it and change it as you wish. This easy flavor packed pesto uses nutrient rich Brazil nuts and is also dairy free. Much as you froze herbs above, you can also preserve pesto in any portion size. Once frozen put into an airtight container for later. In the end, you’ll be topping your roasted vegetables, meats, and pasta with this tasty green sauce or thawing a single portion to dip raw vegetables, crackers, or toasted sandwiches.


  • 1/2 cup organic Brazil nuts
  • 4 cups packed basil leaves
  • 3 raw garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, more as needed
  1. In the bowl of a food processor, add nuts, basil leaves, garlic cloves, and salt.
  2. Next, whiz until all the nuts and basil are puréed.
  3. With processor running, slowing add olive oil to combine.
  4. If adding cheese, sprinkle in at the end and pulse to combine.
  5. Lastly, taste and add more seasoning as needed.
  6. Whether you are freezing for later or storing in the refrigerator now, drizzle a light coating of oil on top to keep greens from browning.

Makes 1 cup. Refrigerate for up to a week. Freeze for up to 6 months.

  • Active prep time: 15 minutes
  • Total time: 20 minutes

Looking to preserve and celebrate this summer before it’s gone? Check out our 3 Summer Ideas for Eating Well Now and Later!

About The Author

Heather Bursch

Heather Bursch

After teaching first graders for seven years, Heather Bursch went from creating reading lessons to designing dinner parties as a personal chef. She credits her three kids with teaching her how to eat well as they've lived and learned together about how good food makes them feel. Heather believes food is for health and pleasure and works to celebrate both the daily greens and seasonal desserts. She writes at shemadeitshemight.com, WELLinsiders.com and you can find her posting @heatherbursch on Instagram about food, life, cooking classes and all things in between.



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