Food Talk
Past Issues:

Preserving Summer – You can have your herbs and eat them too

fresh herbsFall gardens are often full of fresh herbs until the first frost. Suddenly we all have to revert to packaged dried herbs, or tracking down your favourites in the grocery store, which we know aren’t as fresh as our own.

While you can dry your own herbs, the practice is tricky and doesn’t work for all herbs. An easier and often more flavourful option is to freeze herbs. Although you cannot unfreeze and display them on a plate, frozen herbs added to cooking impart almost as fresh a flavour as if they’d just been picked.

Herbs that freeze well are basil, chives, dill and sorrel (both better frozen than dried), lemongrass, mint, oregano, sage, savory, tarragon and thyme.

Herbs have a freezer-life of 6 months and can be added to most dishes straight from the freezer.

Just remember to label them well!

Freezing Herbs 2012 006Here are four methods:

  1. Wash and dry herbs before freezing and pack into freezer bags.  Works well for chives and parsley. Don’t chop ahead of time, just grate as needed and put the rest back into the freezer.
  2. Wash and dry entire stems of herbs (like a stem of basil or parsley), then freeze in a freezer bag. When ready to use, drop into a stew or sauce. Remove just before serving.
  3. Wash and chop herbs finely and freeze in ice-cube containers covered with a little water. Once frozen, you can put the cubes in freezer bags for easier storage (and to get your ice cube trays back!)
  4. Make a paste by mixing 1/3 cup of oil with 2 cups of herbs in a blender until smooth. Freeze the paste in freezer bags, sealed jars or in ice cube trays. The frozen paste gives a great taste to your dishes and the oil keeps them tasting fresh. Herbs that work well in pastes include basil, chervil, cilantro, coriander, dill, fennel, marjoram, mint, parsley, rosemary, sage, savory and tarragon.