Herbs make all the difference in how a meal can taste. Used properly, they can turn a good dish into a great dish. And while herbs will most likely be available in your neighborhood grocery dried up and in glass bottles or plastic bags, we at the Maya Kitchen believe that fresh herbs are the best for cooking purposes.
Whether you grow your own, receive some as a gift, or buy them at an organic market, it’s important to keep them as fresh as possible, for as long as possible.
Fresh is best because dried herbs tend to lose a lot of their flavor. To preserve your herbs, freezing is the better option, and there are four simple ways to do this depending on what you have on hand:
#1 Freezing Herbs On the Stem
Freezing herbs with their stems helps them retain their flavor. You can do this with sage, dill, rosemary, and thyme.
Simply take your herbs and place them several inches apart on a metal baking tray, then pop them in the freezer. Freezing them separately ensures they won’t clump together. Once frozen, store them in an airtight container or a freezer bag. Your herbs can last for up to a year preserved this way.
#2 Rolling Herbs
This is perfect for herbs with flat leaves, such as sage or parsley. Pluck them from their stems and place the leaves in a resealable freezer bag and pack them well in the bottom. Make sure there’s no air left in the bag before sealing.
Once sealed, bundle the herbs by rolling the bag and secure the bundle with a rubber band, then pop the bag in the freezer. To use, slice the amount you need from the roll, and place the bag back into the freezer for storage.
#3 Water Freezing
This process works best when you need to store your herbs for a long period of time. It’s great for delicate herbs like cilantro, mint, and parsley.
Simply remove the herbs from their stems and place them (chopped or whole) into the compartments of an ice cube tray. Add water and place them in the freezer until they’re frozen solid. Once frozen, remove from the tray and place them in a resealable freezer bag for storage.
One option is to fill your ice tray with boiling water. This blanches the herbs to help them retain their flavor and color. Just make sure your ice tray can take the heat!
#4 Oil Freezing
We have to say this is our favorite process because it’s great for making sauces, spreads, or soups that benefit from the oil. This works best with herbs like thyme, oregano, rosemary, or oregano.
First, pluck them from their stems and place them in an ice cube tray (chopped or whole), then fill each compartment with extra virgin olive oil (or melted unsalted butter). Stretch some cling wrap over the tray making sure it’s covered completely. Freeze overnight then transfer the cubes into freezer bags.
Let us know which is favorite preserving method. And, if you have your own tips on preserving herbs that you want to share, leave a comment below!