Fresh herbs are best for most anything. It’s either fresh herbs or none for me, and I think bulk buying is the answer to not going back and forth to the supermarket for fresh herbs all the time. However, herbs don’t stay fresh for long enough and almost always, only little is required to cook one dish, the rest stays unused, and goes bad before I get to use it again.
Freezing is the answer to preserving most foods at home. Raw or cooked, food remains safe for consumption for longer durations when frozen. Most refrigerators have crispers for herbs and vegetables, however, sometimes they don’t keep them good for long enough. People usually rely on their freezers to keep food good and, fortunately, freezers can also help keep fresh herbs stay in good quality for longer than a crisper can. Freezers aren’t only for frozen meat and ice cream, there’s room for herbs too.
Can You Freeze Fresh Herbs?
Taste matters. The important part in freezing herb is that they stay good for consumption for longer than in a crisper, and that the nutrients still stay in the preserved herbs.In freezing fresh herbs, one has to be warned that herbs don’t stay as fresh as it was when bought. Any method of freezing changes the texture of fresh herbs in as soon as two weeks.
Wasting food should be a big “no” in anyone’s vocabulary, and herbs have a big tendency to get wasted seeing as they are usually packed in bigger quantities than needed.
Freezing herbs saves anyone the hassle of running back to the supermarket every now and then in case of forgotten herbs, or on those days you pull out a bunch of herbs and discover they’ve already gone bad.
How to Freeze Fresh Herbs?
There are many ways to freeze fresh herbs, and in all of them, the first step is to wash the herbs.
- To freeze herbs in sprigs or with the stem still on, place herbs in a freezer bag before placing them in the freezer.
- Thaw before cooking to avoid excess water thawing into the food you are cooking.
- Consume within sixty days
The same goes for grated and finely chopped herbs.
One nifty trick in freezing herbs is freezing them into cubes. There are three ways to do this: herbs frozen in water, oil, or butter.
To freeze herbs into cubes:
- Fill in ice tray with chopped herbs
- Add water or oil
- Put tray in the freezer to freeze cubes
- Once frozen, remember to consume within 60 days
And voila! You have cubes of herbs that you can easily drop into the pan whenever you need it.
An alternative step when using oil is to:
- Place chopped herbs and oil with 1:1/4 ratio in a food processor and process until mixture becomes paste-like
- Pour herb paste into ice trays and freeze
- Consume within ninety days
This is very similar to storing pesto. So if you’re familiar with that process, this one should be easy for you. Notice that oil lasts longer than water.
Another alternative is freezing herb in butter. This process is very similar to making herb butter.
- Mix chopped herbs with softened, not melted, butter
- Roll herb butter into a log, or portion in ice trays
- Wrap rolled butted in foil or place in freezer-safe container with a cover
- Freeze herb butter
- Once frozen, remember to consume herb butter within 12 months.
The last one lasts the longest, however, of course, the butter alters the taste of the herbs. The best one here that does the slightest alteration to the herb is freezing herbs in oil.
When water freezes, it creates tiny spaces in between particles that tend to stretch the herb apart on a molecular level. This affects texture and taste negatively when the herb cube is placed under heat and the water vaporizes. This doesn’t happen to oil because of its consistency and chemical makeup, allowing it to treat the herb more mildly than water-freezing does.
Easy Herb Recipes
Here’s some examples on how to use frozen herbs.
Frozen basil and parsley in olive oil makes pesto so much easier. Just add crushed pine nuts, cheese, garlic, and you’re have the quintessential pesto alla Genovese.
Herb butter is also basically already a spread, depending on what you use. Consider using parsley, chives and tarragon, and you’re good to go. Just add lemon zest and lemon juice.
Oil-frozen herbs make for good additions in sautéed dishes. Sauteed mushrooms in garlic and pepper, becomes better with one or two cubes of frozen basil. Just drop the cubes and you get tasty, juicy mushrooms for a healthy, quick dish.