Freeze Your Herbs for Cooking

Do you like cooking with fresh herbs? Not only are they taste great, they smell lovely too! Most herb plants are easy to cook with and are better if used fresh. Just snip a few sprigs from the nearest plant and mix in with your other ingredients.

But what do you do when it is winter and fresh herb plants are few and far between?

Try freezing as a fresh alternative to drying them because it’s a simpler and better way to keep your herbs fresh. In three steps you can store them for future dishes—grow your herbs, harvest your herbs and freeze them. It is not important to dice them before you freeze them. Even after they’re frozen, you will not have to chop them to use them.

Some people dice their herb plants and freeze them in ice cube trays. Once you chop the herb plants, put a tablespoon of herbs into the ice cube tray compartments and cover with water. Put these cubes into the freezer bags and later, when you are ready mix a few cubes into your soups, stews and other meals.

Here are some herb plants that really retain their flavor and taste when frozen:

Basil

Once you harvest your basil, slice the stem just before the buds, remove the foliage and dry your herbs. Put the dried leaves into a plastic container so that you can use your herbs later on. You can also skip the drying out part and stick them straight away into the freezer. Another way to keep your basil is to layer them in the bottom of a plastic container and cover them with extra virgin olive oil, which will both preserve and bring out the flavor. You can store your herbs this way for several months.

Parsley

Do not keep this awesome herb as just another pretty garnish.  Parsley will work well in almost any Italian meal. Poor parsley is pretty under-rated because it doesn’t have the power-packing flavor or scent of oregano, basil or garlic.  What it does have is the ability to strengthen the tastes of other herb plants. Toss it into any dish (usually near the end of the cooking process) and parsley will make the rest of the herbs that much nicer. I generally take the leaves and put your herbs into a freezer bag, put the bags on the shelf of my freezer and then put a box of vegetables on top of my bagsto freeze them flat. When you take out the bag to use the herb, just scrunch up the bag in your hand. No need for dicing.

French Tarragon

Harvest sprigs of this fabulous plant throughout the summer, but stop in early fall so that you do not damage the herb. Of course it’s best to use the leaves fresh, but you can tuck some of these leaves into a freezer bag and they will get you through the winter months. Add them to your chicken or fish dishes. French tarragon also goes well with cream sauces, vinegars and mustards.

Do not forget to write the name of the plant on the freezer bag so that when you bring your herbs out of the freezer you will know what it is.

Good luck with your herb gardening. Be sure to let me know how your herb garden grows.