Sunday, September 12, 2010

Freezing Herbs - Preservation in Ice

About a week ago I posted ways to dry your herbs in the microwave. Today I am going to present another method of preserving herbs. When drying an herb you can change the flavor, but preserve it. However, some herbs, like chives lose so much flavor in drying that the dried herb is a shadowy substitute for the real thing. So if you want to preserve a closer to fresh flavor, freezing may be the answer. There are many different ways to preserve herbs through freezing. Some have a longer life than others.

Short Term Storage (three weeks)

Lay whole herb leaves (for sage or basil) or whole sprigs (like thyme or tarragon) onto cookie sheets lined with parchment or wax paper. Place the sheets in the freezer for at least one hour, or until herbs are frozen. Then place the frozen herbs into freezer bags and press out excess air. Label the bags with contents and date.

To use the herbs, remove leaves or sprigs you need and chop them into your recipes. No need to defrost before use.

Longer Term Storage

Herbal Ice cubes – (4 months)

Freezing chopped herbs in water or broth. Although not as concentrated as oil purees, the individual cubes are easy to add to winter recipes.

Freeze recipe-sized portions of herbs in the liquid base you most often use for winter soups, stews, sauces and marinades. Later pull out the individual cubes and drop them as needed into the cook pot.

One of the easiest ways to do this is chop and blend the herbs, then measure 1 tsp. to 1 Tbls. Into sections of an ice cube tray then cover with broth or water. Once they are frozen pop out the cubes and place them in a zip seal bag with the measurement and herbs listed on the bag.

Frozen Puree – (4 months)

Pureeing, or making an herbal paste, is the more reliable method for freezing fresh herbs. All you need light oil, fresh herbs and a blender.

The technique involves slowly drizzling canola, safflower or other cooking oil while chopping the leaves in a blender. The oil coats the herb particles, preserving their color, flavor and texture. Purees can be used with any culinary herb. You can combine two or three herbs and even add garlic if you want. Freeze the herb puree in small containers so that you can use what you defrost within a week. Always label the jars with contents (herbs and oil used) and the date.

Purees are ideal in any dish including roasted meats, vegetables, sauces, butter, marinades, and salad dressings. They are used as an equal substitute for the freshly chopped herbs. So, if a recipe calls fro 1 Tbls freshly chopped basil, simply substitute 1 Tbls. Basil puree.

To create Puree:
  • 1 to 2 cups fresh herbs
  • ¼ to ½ cup oil
Gently rinse and dry herbs. Put the herbs in a blender or food processor and pulse-chop until finely minced. With the motor running, slowly drizzle the oil into the chopped herbs until they are coated completely, but without excess oil pooling at the bottom. If the herbs look dry, add a bit more oil and mix well. Scoop puree into small, ¼ to ½ cup containers. Pour a layer of oil over the top, then cover, label, date and place in the freezer.

The best part of these methods? When winter gets you down, these will be a tasty reminder of summer’s bounty and that winter will not last forever.

These recipes are just one aspect of the Backyard Patch. For more details on Herb Puree (Pastes) search our blogs in August 2010. To read our herb research, or see a listing of our more than 200 herbal blends for cooking, tea and bath visit the Backyard Patch on-line at

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