You have probably thought of dried herbs if you’ve thought of preserving them, and drying works well. But freezing is another great way to preserve herbs, and some say frozen herbs are superior in flavor to dried ones. You also don’t have to worry about mold or insects infesting your frozen herbs.
Frozen herbs do tend to act and taste more like fresh herbs in recipes, and you don’t need to thaw them before use unless you’re putting them in something raw, like a salad.
Here are some tips and suggestions on freezing fresh herbs.
One way to freeze herbs is simply to put entire sprigs in a single layer in a zip top plastic bag, suck the air out with a straw, and seal. Or layer the sprigs between pieces of wax paper. When you want to use them, simply break or cut off a piece and chop it, then re-seal the bag. This would work well with herbs where you use the stem in addition to the leaves, such as parsley.
For herbs where the stem is tough and woody or you just prefer to use only the leaves, cutting the leaves off prior to freezing works well, too. You might want to use small freezer bags to freeze the leaves so you can avoid opening and re-sealing a large bag too often.
If you like, you can chop your herbs first. Place the chopped pieces into ice cube trays, add a bit of boiling water, and freeze. Then pop them out of the trays and freeze in zip top bags. Add a cube or two to soups and stews.
To Wash or Not to Wash
If you’ve grown your herbs in a greenhouse, on your porch, in your windowsill, or in your garden with no chemicals sprayed on them, then you don’t necessarily have to wash them. Some experts say that washing them actually has a negative effect on the flavor.
However, if you’ve gathered your herbs from an area where spraying has or may have occurred, rinsing them well and patting them dry first is a good idea. If you want to make sure there are no dirt or insects on your chemical-free herbs, then you can always briefly swish them in a pan of water and pat them dry.
You can also blanch your herbs by dipping them in boiling water for a few seconds, just until their color brightens.
When to Harvest
Herbs are best harvested when they are at their peak. Cut them when they are not wilted, brown, or spent from flowering. Sources agree that cutting them in the morning is best. Use sharp scissors so you don’t mash the stem.
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