Rosemary & Blueberry
Rosemary & Blueberry © iStockphoto.com/bgwalker

Herb Preservation: How to Freeze Herbs

When it comes to herb preservation, many people tend to overlook the freezer as an option. Freezing herbs is an easy way to preserve the flavor of many herbs so you can savor their fresh flavor throughout the winter. With a little prep work during the herb harvest time, you can have a freezer filled with a variety of herbs and a kitchen that will smell like fresh herbs all winter.

Flash Freezing Herbs

1) Harvest your herbs.

2) Wash herbs thoroughly, place them on paper towels, and pat dry. 

3) Chop herbs into desired sizes.

4) Place the herbs in a single layer on a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet.

5) Place the sheet of herbs in the freezer and leave them there overnight.

6) In the morning, place the herbs in a labeled plastic or glass container or in a freezer-safe plastic bag (push all the air out of the plastic bag before sealing), and store in the freezer. You can take out as much -- or as little -- of the herbs as you need, and most herbs don’t need to be thawed before using.

Chopped and Frozen Herb Cubes

1) Harvest your herbs.

2) Wash herbs thoroughly, place them on paper towels, and pat dry.

3) Chop the herbs by hand or in a food processor.

4) Place the herbs in an ice cube tray and top off the tray with water. Add the water slowly so the water doesn’t displace the herbs.

5) Freeze the herb cubes overnight. 

6) In the morning, remove the herb ice cubes from the tray and place them in a plastic or glass container or in a freezer-safe plastic bag, and store in the freezer. The cubes make tasty additions to soups or sauces.

Herbs that freeze well using these two easy herb freezing methods include:

  • Lemongrass
  • Chives
  • Dill
  • Chervil
  • Coriander
  • TarragonBasil (see Basil Pesto recipe below)
  • Mint
  • Parsley
  • Borage
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Cilantro
  • Sweet Woodruff
  • Sorrel
  • Winter and Summer Savory
  • Oregano
  • Marjoram
  • Fennel

GoGardenGo’s Basil Pesto

3 cloves purple garlic

2 cups chopped basil leaves

½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese

½ cup pine nuts

½ cup chopped Italian parsley

½ cup olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

¼ teaspoon fresh cracked ground pepper

Place ingredients in a food processor and process until the paste is smooth. Allow flavors to ‘meld’ before freezing in ice cube trays or small containers. Freezes well for up to 6 months. 

Freezing Herbs in Olive Oil

1. Another creative way to preserve herbs used in cooking is to freeze them in extra virgin olive oil. This simple method gives you a lot of herb power for very little work; all you need is some herbs, olive oil, and an ice cube tray. GoGardenGo recommends this herb freezing method for herbs like rosemary, oregano, sage, and thyme.

As an added bonus, the olive oil will help protect the herbs from freezer burn and browning, and the olive oil will be infused with the herb’s aroma as it freezes. Just think about how summery your kitchen will smell when you’re cooking in the winter!

1) Harvest your herbs.

2) Wash herbs thoroughly, place them on paper towels, and pat dry.

3) Chop the leaves -- either by hand or in a food processor.

4) If you hand-chop the leaves, place the chopped leaves in an ice cube tray (about ⅔ full) and top off the tray with extra virgin olive oil. If you use a food processor, slowly add the olive oil to the mixture until it forms a paste. As a rule of thumb, add ⅓ cup of extra virgin olive oil for every 2 cups of herbs.

5) Freeze the herb cubes overnight. 

6) In the morning, remove the herb cubes from the tray and place them in a plastic or glass container or a freezer-safe plastic bag and store in the freezer. 

Freezing Herbs in Butter

Mixing a batch of herbs with unsalted butter is a fun treat to make for the winter. Herb butter can be used to cook a holiday turkey, spread on bread, add to a sandwich, or to add flavor to rice. Experiment with new combinations.

1) Harvest the desired herbs.

2) Wash herbs thoroughly, place them on paper towels, and pat dry.

3) Chop the leaves either by hand or in a food processor. For each pound of butter, you will need ¼- ½ cup of herbs.

4) Whip herbs together with the butter.

5) Freeze in loaf pans or ice cube trays.

HERB BUTTER RECIPES:

GoGardenGo’s Savory Herb Butter

2 pounds unsalted butter

1 teaspoon grey sea salt

1 teaspoon fresh black cracked pepper

3 tablespoons chopped rosemary

3 tablespoons chopped thyme

3 tablespoons chopped basil

1 finely chopped jalapeno pepper

In a large mixing bowl or food processor, mix the salt, pepper, and herbs together. Chop the butter into smaller pieces and add to the herb mixture. Adjust flavors as desired. Freeze in loaf pans and slice into pats when frozen. You can also freeze the herb butter in shaped ice cube trays for your next dinner party. 

GoGardenGo’s Breakfast Honey Butter

1 pound softened unsalted butter

4 tablespoons lemon verbena

1 tablespoon orange zest

½ cup honey

In a large mixing bowl or food processor, mix the herbs, zest, and honey together. Chop the butter into smaller pieces and add to the herb mixture. Adjust flavors as desired. Freeze in loaf pans and slice into pats when frozen. You can also freeze the honey butter in shaped ice cube trays. Makes a perfect treat on an english muffin. (Children often think that it tastes like Trix cereal).

GoGardenGo: How to Harvest and Preserve Herbs:

How to Harvest Herbs

How to Dry Herbs

How to Make Herbal Vinegar Infusions

How to Make Herbal Oil Infusions

How to Make Herbal Sugar or Salt

How to Make Herbal Honey

How to Make Herbal Liquor Infusions

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