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Freezing Fresh Herbs
Every now and then I get asked about freezing herbs. Gardeners can’t bear to lose one bit of the fresh wonderful flavor of herbs. We freeze vegetables – why not herbs?
Freezing works best with tender-leafed herbs such as basil, cilantro, dill, fennel, chervil. It’s possible to freeze others such as rosemary, sage, or oregano�but I don’t think it�s worth the trouble. When dried they retain plenty of flavor.
To freeze herbs begin with fresh picked leaves in prime condition. Don’t bother freezing old or sickly looking leaves. As one herbal expert noted, “No amount of post-harvest care will make up for poor quality materials.” Take the harvested leaves, remove them from the stems, place in water, and agitate them just as you do when washing fine linen.� Lift the leaves out of the water (rather than pouring off the water) so that the debris will be left behind. Now take the dripping leaves and dry them off in a salad spinner or by patting them with a towel.
Lay the clean leaves on a tray in a single layer. Place the tray in the freezer. The leaves are thin enough that they will quick freeze, preserving the essential oils that provide flavor. After an hour or so gather the leaves into a closed container (zip-lock bags are fine) and keep in the freezer until needed.
Another way to freeze herbs is the ice cube method. Once you have rinsed and dried your fresh leaves, place them in a blender or food processor. Add enough water to make a slurry liquid once the leaves have been finely chopped. Pour this into ice cube trays and freeze. Then remove the frozen herb ice cubes from the trays and place them back in the freezer in an airtight container. Then when you need them, you can grab a cube or two for your soup, stew, or casserole.