Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Preserving the Harvest - How to Make Herbal Seasoning Frozen Cubes

I've talked before about freezing as a method of preservation for herbs and I have discussed making herbal pastes. This time I am going to combine the two and show you how to make an herbal paste and freeze it.

I harvested these herbs for a program that was cancelled so I needed to use them up in a hurry.  We could not cook them all so I decided that I would make an herbal paste and try a new technique someone turned me onto this summer.

These frozen nodules of goodness are great in seasonal soups, stews, gravy and sauces. And because they are the size of an ice cube, you do not have to thaw an entire jar of puree making the herbs easier to use in cooking especially when pressed for time.

How to make frozen herbal seasoning cubes

1) First off, harvest your herbs that you want to freeze and give them a cleaning and air dry to remove the wash water.

2) Next, pulse the herbs in a food processor or blender with enough broth, olive oil or water to get your desired consistency. Use just enough liquid to blend the herbs together well. It was close to 1 teaspoon or two, not a full tablespoon for this average size Osterizer.

  •   for basil use olive oil (I used purple basil)
  •   for thyme you can use broth or water.  I made some with chicken broth and some with water
  •   for sage a lighter oil like canola is good or chicken broth if you intend to use it in stuffing
  •   for tarragon or dill I suggest water because you do not want to mask the light flavor
  •   for garlic or garlic chives use a bit of olive oil (If you love garlic but hate mincing fresh, this is the way to go.)

3) Prepare your trays or muffin tins. They should be clean and dry.  I experimented with spraying cooking oil in some of them.  I do not think it make much difference in the removal stage.  One friend suggested placing a fresh leaf in the bottom of the tray to make an imprint in the cube.  It makes them very pretty and I felt like Martha Stewart doing it - which is a good thing!

4) Plop spoonfuls of your mixtures into the cleaned ice cube trays or mini muffin pan or other suitable containers and freeze. Be sure to mark the trays with what you placed in them because except for the purple basil, they all look alike as a puree.  Allow them to freeze at least overnight, 12 hours is better than 8.

5) When they have frozen solid, pop them out and store them in a zip lock bag in the freezer.  These will keep for quite a while.  My friend said she had some from 2 years ago that she was still using and the flavors were just fine. 
frozen cubes in ziplocks in a freezer bag

I also experimented with blending a few of the herbs together in the cubes too. 
thyme & tarragon frozen

Thyme & Basil before freezing

When you use the herbal cubes, just take one (or two) out and toss in whatever you are cooking. It will melt down fast and incorporate its flavorful goodness into your dish. With this technique you save some sweet summer for your winter dishes.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...