Storing, freezing & drying rosemary


For many years now, I have been growing various vegetables as a hobby in my spare time, which is what ultimately led me to studying horticulture. I find it fascinating to watch as plants grow from seed to fruit and to then finally be able to make use of the literal fruits of my labour.

Favourite fruit: Strawberries and cherries
Favourite vegetable: Potatoes, tomatoes and garlic

After the final rosemary harvest in late summer, the question of how to preserve and store the sprigs arises. After all, we want to enjoy the taste of the Mediterranean even in the dead of winter.

Rosemary plant
Rosemary sprigs are easy to preserve and store

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a popular culinary herb. A little goes a long way, so it is no wonder that after a rich harvest, not all the rosemary can be used fresh. Read on to find out how best to preserve and store your harvested sprigs of rosemary.

How to store fresh rosemary

Freshly harvested rosemary sprigs can be stored for 7 to 14 days. Wash the rosemary and pat it dry − wet rosemary quickly becomes slimy and inedible. Then, wrap the sprigs in a damp kitchen towel and place them in a sealable freezer bag. With these steps, your rosemary will last longer in your refrigerators’ vegetable drawer. Alternatively, immediately after harvesting the rosemary sprigs, place them in a glass of water. Discover how to harvest and prune rosemary correctly in our dedicated article.

Rosemary in bloom
Frozen or dried rosemary can be kept for a long time [Photo: janaph/]

How to preserve rosemary

There are a variety of ways to preserve fresh rosemary. Both freezing and drying rosemary are excellent options for preserving it for longer. This way you can still use the herbs from your harvest in winter and early spring.

Drying rosemary

Like many other Mediterranean herbs, rosemary is traditionally preserved by drying. Here are our simple step-by-step instructions for drying rosemary:

  • Shake the rosemary sprigs gently before drying to remove dust and dirt.
  • Remove the leaves at the bottom of the stem.
  • Gather several rosemary sprigs into small loose bunches. Then tie the bottoms of the stems together with string.
  • Hang the rosemary bunches in a dry, clean and dark place. Avoid direct sunlight, as this weakens the aroma of the herbs.
  • Check on the rosemary regularly. When the leaves easily fall off the twigs when touched, they are completely dried. This usually takes a few weeks, but it can also take months.
  • Remove the dried leaves from the stems and store the leaves in an airtight container.
  • Dried rosemary can be stored for a year or more.
  • If you do not want to wait that long, you can also try drying rosemary in the oven. Set the oven to maximum temperature of 30 °C and open the door occasionally during the process to allow moisture to escape.
hanging bundles of herbs
Rosemary, like other herbs, air-dries slowly [Photo: tchara/]

Freezing rosemary

Here are our easy step-by-step instructions for freezing rosemary:

  • Wash the rosemary sprigs thoroughly and dry them well.
  • Leave the leaves on the stem and arrange the sprigs on a baking tray so that the individual stems do not touch − this prevents the stems from freezing together and makes it easier to remove individual sprigs later.
  • Place the baking tray in the freezer for a few hours to freeze the rosemary sprigs.
  • Once frozen, transfer the rosemary sprigs to a labelled freezer bag and store them in the freezer.
  • Frozen rosemary can be stored for a year or more. Frozen rosemary sprigs do not need to be defrosted before cooking.

Tip: Another option is to make rosemary infused olive oil. First, strip the rosemary leaves from the twigs and cut them into small pieces. Then, using a funnel, put the chopped rosemary leaves into a bottle, and fill with olive oil. Rosemary syrup can also be made and added to tea or other drinks for an added dimension.

fresh and dried rosemary
Dried or frozen, rosemary can be kept for a year or more [Photo: 5PH/]

Rosemary health benefits and uses

Rosemary is an ideal accompaniment to Mediterranean cuisine and is an excellent herb for barbecuing. With its slightly bitter flavour, rosemary complements hearty dishes. Not only does it balance meat and fish dishes, but it enhances salads and soups too. It adds a fresh Mediterranean bouquet to many dishes when combined with other herbs. Learn how to plant rosemary and grow it yourself in our other article.

Rosemary is best known and valued as an herb, but its healing properties are equally noteworthy. Rosemary essential oils consist of borneol, pinene and cineol, as well as phenolic compounds such as rosmarinic acid and carnosic acid and some flavonoids. Rosemary can help with digestive issues, inflammation, restlessness and even mental disorders. It is commonly used in ointments, tinctures and steam baths.

Small bottle of rosemary oil
Rosemary oil is often used in tinctures or added to bath water [Photo: Halil ibrahim mescioglu/]

Is rosemary poisonous?

Consumed in large quantities, rosemary is toxic. However, the amount used when cooking is safe. You should take care with long, hot rosemary baths. After a while they can cause circulatory problems rather than improving circulation.

Edible rosemary flowers

Yes, rosemary flowers are edible. The pretty little flowers are lovely for decorating dishes. They are also often added to bath salts. The essential oil content of the plant is at its highest during its flowering period, meaning the rosemary flavour is the most intense at this time.

Is rosemary poisonous to cats and dogs?

No, rosemary is not poisonous to cats and dogs. In fact, small amounts of rosemary have an anti-inflammatory effect and stimulate digestion. So, do not fret if your pets nibble on a sprig of rosemary from time to time, as this can increase their well-being.

Close-up of rosemary flowers
Rosemary flowers are also edible [Photo: LifeCollectionPhotography/]

The prerequisite for a rich harvest is, of course, a well-cared for, healthy rosemary plant. Find out everything you need to know about caring for rosemary in our article.

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