Herbs frozen in the freezer can conjure the pleasures of summer, even during the midst of winter. Here’s how to start.
During prime gardening season, there is plenty of homegrown parsley to harvest. But some months of the year, there is none — unless we freeze some now.Credit…Margaret Roach
Parsley, the herb I most often use every week is hardly ever on my shopping list these days. The last time I purchased canned tomatoes was likely 20 years ago.
It’s no accident that it’s been this long since a valuable portion of my harvest of garlic began to sprout in storage and then deteriorating before I was able to use the entire harvest.
What do these items are in the same category? The power of food preservation in freezing, that permits me to keep homegrown food items for all the time and reduce food waste.
Do not let your garlic plants sprout when you’re conserving it. Peel and freeze whole cloves, tossing them in the tiniest amount of olive oil, and pack them in glass canning jars.Credit…Margaret Roach
Maybe this sounds familiar. You find yourself craving a bit of cilantro to simmer with the black beans, or some parsley or chives for a frittata or omelet, but there is none — especially outside of garden season. My experiments in freezing started there, with the desire to have green herbs on hand to enliven such dishes, or just to take tonight’s salad dressing up a notch.
You can find a variety of herbal potions and packets in jars and freezer bags in the dark, cold space that is above my refrigerator. A gallon of vegetable trimmings, including the peels of onion and ends and carrot tops, are always in the process there, too, all set to be used as vegetable stock. It’s also where I store my secret ingredient: the mainly scooped out skin of the most recent roasting Butternut squash that makes the broth thicker, sweeter and more shiny.
The green herbs are able to be froze water-based cubes of ice. Add a little liquid when you’re pureeing the herbs, or just press the chopped leaves into ice-cube trays and cover them with water.Credit…Margaret Roach
Three Ways to Freeze Green Herbs
The frozen herbs aren’t an optimal substitute for fresh herbs in all situations. Flat-leaf leaves that have been frozen Italian parsley -the Gigante Italian is the favorite kind — will not play an important role with the other lettuce greens like fresh leaves do.
As an ingredient in a variety of recipes, they’re excellent. Therefore, I freeze chives parsley, dill, basil oregano and cilantro. mint and sage.
Whatever herb you use, be sure to wash it thoroughly before using. Dry it off in a salad spinner or dish towels. Take the desired pieces, typically the leaflets of the stems, just as you would with any other purpose. I’ve had great outcomes by simply placing various kinds of herb leaves into double-layered freezer bags with the entire air released; I cut and keep chives in canning jars that are four-ounces.
Chopped chives frozen in a canning jar are easy to scoop out as needed to add to a recipe or for garnish.Credit…Margaret Roach
An easy and flexible way is to purée almost every herb you can think of in a food processor, using some olive oil, and then freeze it like making an ice cube. The cubes can be tossed out to store in two bags. A spoonful of fresh cilantro to garnish a bowl of winter garam masala squash soup is an absolute delight.
You can also make a pesto made with grated cheese and garlic or cheese. Some chefs worry that the vegetables frozen in addition to other ingredients won’t be fresher after a couple of months; however, as someone who frozen and spread many pesto cubes onto toast for a brightening effect on up a winter’s day or drizzled pizza crusts at the table with one even when there was no fresh basil in the fridge I’m not convinced.
Cubes made of water are another option. Include a small amount of liquid when purifying, or simply put the leaves chopped into ice cube tray and then add water to them in each compartment, then fill it up with more once it has cooled and covers the inevitable green bits that will emerge.
Let the herb’s characteristics and final use determine which methods and ingredients you select. Basil is one of them. It is more stable in a base of olive oil (and is typically used with it when cooking). However, using olive oil in conjunction along with mints, like lemon balm, is an odd match.