I have loved having fresh herbs available from our garden this summer. There is no easier way to add flavor to dishes than by adding some freshly chopped herbs. But as summer comes to an end I have been looking for ways to preserve my herbs for use during the cold months ahead. This year I have decided to experiment with three methods for freezing fresh herbs.
Freezing herbs is a fast and easy way to retain the flavor, aroma, and nutrients found in fresh herbs. Herbs can be frozen for up to twelve months. Once thawed they may be too wilted for use in salads or as a garnish but they will make a delicious addition to soups, stir-fries, and casseroles. Here are three methods for freezing fresh herbs.
Preparing Herbs for Freezing
Your first step will be to harvest and clean your herbs. Simply rinse them in water. Make sure to pat them dry or spin them dry in a salad spinner. You can also lay the herbs out on a tea towel to dry.
Freezing Whole Herbs
Many hardier herbs can be frozen whole and stored in an airtight container. Hardier herbs like rosemary, dill, thyme, bay or sage can be spread in a single layer on a sheet pan and placed in the freezer. Once they are frozen, transfer them into an airtight container. Go ahead and chop chives and lemongrass before you freeze them. These herbs are thin and will freeze in minutes. Remember to label and date your container. To use, simply remove the number of necessary herbs and use them in the same way you would use fresh herbs.
Freezing Herbs in Water
More tender herbs like mint, parsley, and cilantro can be removed from their stems and frozen in ice cube trays. Fill an ice cube tray halfway full with water. Then place about a tablespoon of chopped or whole leaf herbs in each cube. This way, you will know how much herb is in each cube. The herbs may float and will not be entirely covered with water. Don’t worry. Place the ice cube tray in the freezer. The next day, take the ice cube tray out of the freezer and top off each cube with water so that the herbs are fully covered with water. Place the ice cube tray back into the freezer. Once they are frozen, transfer the cubes into an airtight container. Remember to label and date your container. You can either use the ice cubes as they are or place them in a strainer to melt.
Freezing Herbs in Olive Oil
Another great way to freeze herbs is in oil. Basil freezes well this way, but this method also works well with other herbs like oregano or thyme. This method works best for herbs that will be used in soups, sauces, or other dishes where oil is welcome. Remove the stems and combine about a cup of fresh herbs with a 1/4 cup of olive oil in a food processor. Pulse to blend, then transfer into ice cube trays. If you would like to keep the herbs whole, the leaves may be removed from the stems, placed in ice cube trays and then covered with oil to freeze. The herbs won’t float as they will in water. Once they are frozen, transfer the cubes into an airtight container. Remember to label and date your container.
Tips for Freezing Herbs
- Choose firm fresh herbs for freezing.
- When deciding which method to use for freezing, consider how you will use the herbs. I use the whole and water methods for herbs that I plan to use uncooked. If I know I will be cooking with the herbs I use either the whole or oil method.
- Don’t leave the trays of frozen herbs in the freezer without transferring them into an airtight container. They will get freezer burn.
- Be sure to label and date your frozen herbs! The herbs will all look similar once they are frozen and you may not remember which is which later.
Want more information about fresh herbs? Check out these blog posts: