How To Freeze Fresh Herbs
There’s something special about being able to nip out to the garden to pick fresh herbs to cook with. It’s a simple pleasure and their flavour is superior to anything you’ll buy in the shops. The problem is that not all herbs keep producing year-round. The answer to that is to freeze them. It’s what I do, so read on to learn how to freeze fresh herbs for year-round use.Freezing fresh herbs is one way of keeping a supply for cooking with in winter #freshherbs Click To Tweet
I wrote about my herb garden a couple of weeks back. Not being someone particularly green-fingered it may come as no surprise that it is something I am rather proud of. Not that anyone gets to see it really.
I get genuine joy from being able to pick up a pair of scissors to go and cut fresh herbs for the kitchen. But not all herbs produce leaves all year round and those that do often go dormant in winter so supply is limited.
Fresh basil is probably my all-time favourite herb. How lovely is a plate of pasta slathered in a simple homemade fresh tomato and basil sauce? I love it!
Unfortunately, it’s one of those herbs that only survive one season. It really doesn’t like the cold. Living in a warm climate I can keep my plants going until after Christmas (usually and depending on the temperatures). Luckily though basil is a herb that freezes nicely, so there is no excuse for not having a good supply for winter.
Flat Leaved Parsley
Flat leaved parsley is such a versatile herb. Its subtle flavour works well when added to soups, stews and even a white sauce base.
Parsley plants last around two years, but again in winter, I find they don’t keep me with the supply I would like. We do like our soups in winter.
It’s not a problem as I harvest leaves to freeze through the summer which in turn helps to keep the plant healthy and producing. And gives me ample supply in the winter.
Fresh oregano is a popular herb in Greece and can be seen growing in gardens and in the wild too. It is a herb that lasts year on year, but again I have found that it goes dormant in winter, producing minimal leaves.
In spring and autumn, it has a real growth spurt and produces plenty of nice young leaves that I harvest and freeze. After each growth spurt, I cut the bush right back again to help keep it healthy.
Apparently, the leaves are at their sweetest just before the flowers blossom. I’m not really sure about that, but I do try and harvest the leaves whilst they are young and if there are buds on the stems that’s fine.
Lovage is a herb I had to learn to love and now I would be lost without it. Its taste is very like celery, but when used sparingly really does add a lovely taste to stews and soups. If you’re not keen on celery it does take a while to get used to the taste.
These plants are still quite young, but I’ve managed to freeze enough leaves for the winter as a little goes a long way. It’s also a herb plant that should last a few years.
Last year I had a lovely lovage plant, but my herb garden needed better sorting and it died in the process.
How To Freeze Fresh Herbs
I like to live a faff free life, so try to keep things simple. Freezing herbs is as simple as picking the nicest looking leaves.Got an abundance of fresh herbs in the garden? Why not freeze them for the winter? #herbgarden #winterkitchen Click To Tweet
- Pick leaves that are not too young and not too old. I tend to pick them still attached to the stem and freeze them just so.
- Wash them if need be. My herb garden is chemical-free, so I have been known to just pick and freeze. In my opinion, herbs freeze better when they haven’t been washed or chopped.
- If you do wash your fresh herbs before freezing it’s important to only give them a quick swill under the cold tap or in a bowl of cold water and to make sure they are dry before freezing. Soaking them in water or using hot water diminishes the quality of the herb for freezing.
- Then all you have to do is pop your herbs into a tub or freezer bag and pop into the freezer. I tend to keep one freezer bag per herb per summer and keep adding the herbs until the bag is full. If I start a second bag I’ll number it as bag 2. Simple!
Drying Fresh Herbs For Freezing
A salad spinner is a handy utensil for drying herbs. Give the herbs a shake and pop just a few into the spinner at a time. Finish off with a gentle pat with either a clean cloth or a piece of kitchen roll.
The image above is of some fresh basil I froze back along. Notice how it’s still intact on the stem? When it comes to using herbs frozen like this it is just a matter of taking what you want from the freezer and crumbling the leaves into your cooking.
I’m not overly finickety, but on the above piece of basil, I probably wouldn’t use the main stem as that could be a little tough.
With the oregano, I wouldn’t use the stems at all but just a little rub and the leaves crumble away from the stem.
The lovage and parsley I would use the entire leave as the stems are soft and soft even more when cooked.
Did you know that you can use the root of both the parsley and lovage plant in cooking? The taste is somewhat stronger than the leaves, but a little goes a long way.
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