Once a plant has grown to a suitable size, you can harvest several small branches without harming it. Here is the length of time from planting when you can harvest plants from different starts:
- Nursery plants: 3 months
- Cuttings: 1 year
- Seed: 15 months
You can harvest several times during a season, but the plants should be allowed to replace their growth between harvests. Remember that some varieties are valued for their flowers, which can be harvested to use in salads.
Pick stems in the morning after the dew dries and before afternoon heat sets in, for best flavor. Choose tender tips, and use sharp garden pruners to cut stems 6 to 8 inches long.
Clippings can be used fresh—retaining their flavor for two to seven days in the refrigerator—or dried for later use, by hanging in bunches in a warm, airy spot out of direct sunlight. Once dried, store the sprigs or stripped-off leaves in sealable plastic bags or jars in a cool, dark cupboard. You can keep them until next season’s harvest is ready!
You can also dry stems in a single layer in a food dehydrator set to the lowest setting.
Another method for storing rosemary leaves is to freeze them in ice cube trays half-filled with olive oil or water, or simply roll them up in freezer bags, squeezing out as much air as you can, and put them in the freezer.
How do you store your harvested rosemary? Do you freeze or dry it? Please tell us how you keep your rosemary year-round.