Frozen Herbs Spice Up Recipes Year Round

There's a real feeling of accomplishment in growing your own herbs. The lingering scent of cilantro, rosemary or thyme leaves after cultivating is simply intoxicating. A snip of basil is better than salad dressing. And homemade salsa is every gardeners dream. 

But dried herbs...pleah! So much of the punch is lost in translation and store-bought herbs cost so much. Still, most climates can't sustain outdoor herbs year round so something must be done to preserve all that extra growth.

That's where freezing comes in. You actually have several options, so take your choice from flash freezing, ice-cubing and ice-cubing with oil.

1. Preparation
  •  Select the freshest herbs.
  •  Remove any damaged portions.
  •  Wash in running water, making sure no dirt or grit remains.
  •  Pat dry or run through a salad spinner and pat dry.

2. Flash-Freezing Method
Perfect for herbs you plan on using in dry recipes.
  •  Wash and thoroughly pat dry. (Salad spinners work well
  •  Lay herbs flat on wax or parchment paper on a cookie sheet.
  •  Freeze overnight. (Make sure the cookie sheet lays flat in the freezer.)
  •  Place leaves in freezer bags.
  •  Suck out excess air with a straw

3. Ice-Cube Method
Excellent for herbs you plan on using in soups or stews
  •  Hand chop leaves...
  •  or chop using a food processor. (You may want to pat herbs dry again as more liquid can be released.)
  •  Put chopped pieces into ice cube trays and fill with water or chicken/vegetable/beef stock.
  •  Freeze overnight.
  •  Place cubes in freezer bags.
  •  Suck out excess air with a straw.
  •  You may want to double-bag the cubes, removing excess air from the second bag to keep the cubes from freezing together.

4. Ice-Cube Method With Oil
Use this method with basil for nearly instant pesto. Just add the grated hard cheese and chopped nuts of your choice after defrosting the cubes.
  •  In food processor or blender combine 1/3 cup oil for each 2 cups of herbs.
  •  Fill ice cube trays with mushed herbs and oil.
  •  Freeze overnight.
  •  Place cubes in freezer bags
  •  Suck out excess air with a straw.

5. Freezing Garlic
Freezing an oil puree preserves the flavor of the garlic the best but you must use the puree immediately after removing it from the freezer.
  •  Peel cloves thoroughly.
  •  In food processor, puree one-part garlic with two-parts oil.
  •  (You can also leave cloves whole and pour oil over them.)
  •  Pack in freezer bags or freezer-safe containers. (Do not store in refrigerator!) You'll find great storage units at the Container Store.
  •  Puree will stay soft enough to scoop out as needed for sautéing.

See our previous posts for information on drying and freezing your own garden vegetables.

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