There is nothing quite like cooking with fresh herbs! Their aroma is amazing and their essence is so fresh and potent. They infuse such a full-bodied flavor to any dish you can incorporate them into. When given the choice between using a dried herb or fresh, I go for fresh any time I have some available. But what to do when the first frost is forecasted and the end of your outdoor growing season is upon you? Preserve those fresh herbs!
Sure you can dry them. Hang them to dry around your kitchen and home, they look amazing and smell fantastic while they are drying. Or, cut the leaves off the stems and place them in your dehydrator or oven to dry them faster. Either way, you will be using your home grown (or store bought) herbs and preserving them for future use.
But what if I told you there was a better way? A way to preserve your herbs for up to a year and still use them fresh. Not dried. Fresh. Like the day you picked or purchased them. Would you give it a try? Here I will show you my go-to method for preserving herbs.
First, harvest all those herbs. Give them a good rinse, especially if you used any herbicides or pesticides in your growing program, or if you purchased them. Pat them completely dry, or wrap them in a towel and refrigerate overnight until they are thoroughly dry. THEY CAN NOT BE DAMP. If the herbs have any moisture on them, they tend to stick together and are harder to get out in small increments for cooking. Once your herbs are dry, pluck the leaves from the stems, or in the case of tender shoots of tiny leaves, leave them on. You don’t want any woody stems, nothing you wouldn’t consume.
Place your leaves in a mason jar, freezer container or freezer bag. I recommend a jar or container to avoid crushed herbs. I pack mine in a mason jar very tightly, without crushing. You can get a ton of herbs in a mason jar!
Once you have your herbs ready in whatever container you have chosen, you are ready to freeze. Freezing your herbs will result in a little bit darker of an herb, but no worries! Whenever you take a pinch out here or there throughout the winter season, they will still taste and cook like fresh!
When you are ready to use your frozen herbs, take out the freezer container and take a pinch or the appropriate measurement for your recipe and put the container back into the freezer as quickly as possible. You don’t want the herbs to thaw and refreeze completely every time you need to use them. This will result in a lower quality preserved herb. You may find that even if you have fully dried the herbs before freezing they still stick together a little. That is typically from the natural oils and juices and is nothing to be concerned about.
I have had excellent results with freezing chopped chives, lemon thyme, rosemary, oregano, parsley, mint, and basil. Let me know if you try any other