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Freeze Fresh Herbs from the Garden

May 02, 2022


Using fresh herbs from the garden is often a cook’s best kept secret. Not only do they pack a wealth of flavor, but they also contain health-boosting compounds such as vitamins A, C, and K, as well as protective polyphenols, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
 
Unfortunately, after being harvested from the garden, many herbs have a lifespan of merely one to two weeks when stored in the refrigerator. Too much moisture can turn the leaves slimy, while too little can cause them to dry out. Furthermore, excess light can cause fresh herbs to turn yellow, while excess oxygen is likely to turn the herbs brown.
 
Although drying herbs is often the best method for preserving spring and summer surpluses, it does not always capture the flavor that we’d hoped. Freezing herbs, on the other hand, maintains much of the taste and nutrients found in fresh herbs and is often a more appropriate method for herbs with a high moisture content such as mint, parsley, and chives.
 
Here are four methods that can be used for freezing fresh herbs for later use:
 
Freezing Bare Herbs
            Many hardy herbs such as rosemary, dill, thyme, and sage can be frozen on the stem, while some herbs, like chives, can be chopped and frozen bare. To prevent clumping during storage, spread the herbs on a baking sheet in a single layer and place in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer the herbs into an airtight container and remove them one sprig at a time when needed.
 
Freezing in Water
            Tender herbs such as mint, cilantro, and parsley can be frozen into ice cubes for long-term storage. Pack an ice cube tray with chopped or whole leaf herbs, fill with water, and place in the freezer. Once frozen, the cubes can be easily transferred into an airtight container or Ziploc bag for single-serve access.
 
Freezing in Oil
            If you plan to use your herbs in dishes where oil is welcome, such as sauces and soups, freezing in oil may be the best preservation method. Remove the stems from your herbs and combine a cup of fresh herbs with ¼ cup of olive oil. Blend in a food processor, then transfer to ice cube trays to be placed in the freezer. If you prefer to keep the leaves whole, remove them from the stem and place in an ice cube tray without blending. Cover with a layer of oil before freezing. This method is best for herbs such as oregano and thyme.
 
Rolling Herbs
            For space-efficient storage, flat-leaf herbs such as sage and parsley can be rolled and sliced as needed for use in recipes. Simply fill a Ziploc bag with your herb leaves and compress them into the bottom of the bag. Roll the bag around the bundled herbs, secure the roll with a rubber band, and place in the freezer.
            Following these strategies will ensure that you have a sufficient herb supply all summer long and even throughout the winter. If the frozen herbs are stored in airtight containers, they will last for up to a year and are sure to add fabulous flavor to your cooking.
 
If you are interested in starting your own herb garden, stop by your local Co-op for supplies and advice. For more content like this, check out the latest issue of the Cooperator.

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