Herbs are great for flavoring and are often used in a variety of dishes. Usually herbs can be bought fresh and dried. Because dried herbs have been processed to remove as much moisture as possible, they have a longer shelf life than fresh herbs. However, the intensity of the aroma and flavor of dried herbs may decrease the longer they are stored.
Fresh herbs have a shorter shelf life as they are quite delicate. They bruise easily and are prone to rot. Fresh herbs are also sensitive to temperature changes. But can you freeze fresh herbs? For example, if you prefer to work with fresh herbs but need to save the rest for later, is freezing the best way to preserve herbs? Yes, this is the best way to freeze herbs!
Fresh herbs can be frozen, and if done right, there’s little to no change in flavor! In fact, fresh herbs that are properly frozen retain the same aroma, flavor and nutrients as freshly harvested herbs. In addition, there are different techniques to freeze fresh herbs!
Frozen fresh herbs may not look as pretty as freshly picked herbs, but they are definitely safe to use in cooking.
One thing to consider when preparing herbs for freezing is the moisture content. You need to remove as much water as possible during preparation to prevent ice crystals from forming in the herbs. Otherwise, as the herbs are thawed, the ice crystals will melt and dilute the flavor of the herb.
Not only is freezing a fantastic way to maximize fresh herbs; it’s also a fantastic way to stock up on seasonal herbs! Imagine having summer season herbs all winter long. Now let’s see how you can freeze herbs:
Table of Contents
How do you freeze fresh herbs?
The best herbs to freeze
There are different types of herbs, which ones are best to freeze? Hard or chewy herbs are best for freezing because they contain less moisture, so they won’t break down as easily after freezing. They’re also more likely to retain their aroma and flavor after freezing and thawing. Examples of chewy herbs include oregano, bay leaf, marjoram, and thyme.
Soft herbs are herbs with a high moisture content. This makes them difficult to freeze. As they contain more moisture, the ice crystals will develop in the herbs. This will dilute the flavor and aroma of the herbs. Parsley, basil, cilantro, tarragon, basil, mint and chives are among the most common soft herbs. They can be frozen, but expect slight changes in flavor.
Read Also: Can you freeze avocados?
Preparation of the herbs
No matter what type of herbs you’re freezing, it’s important to prepare the herbs before freezing. Start by rinsing the herbs in cold water, removing dirt and other debris. Once the herbs are clean, pat them dry with a paper towel. Finally, you can either chop the herbs or leave them uncut. Now you are ready to freeze them.
Freeze fresh herbs individually
Stubborn herbs like rosemary, Italian parsley, sage dill, chives, thyme and bay leaf can be frozen with minimal steps. Because these herbs have a low moisture content, they are able to retain their enzymes and natural flavors.
Simply spread the fresh herbs out in a single-layer baking sheet, making sure the herbs don’t touch each other so they don’t clump together. Stick the baking sheet in the freezer and let it freeze for about an hour.
Once the fresh herbs are frozen, prepare several resealable plastic bags. Remove the baking sheet, place the frozen herbs in it, and then squeeze out as much air as possible. Seal the plastic bag and flatten it. Write down the storage date and stick the herbs in the freezer.
Freezing fresh herbs in water
This technique works best with delicate herbs like cilantro, mint, and parsley. You will need several ice cube trays and filtered water. You can either chop the herbs or leave them uncut. Place herbs in each ice cube slot, then fill with filtered water. Make sure the herbs are completely submerged in water before placing the bowl in the freezer. Let the herbs freeze for about two hours.
Once the herbs are frozen solid, prepare quart-sized resealable plastic bags. Remove the ice cube trays, fill in each herb cube and carefully place in the plastic bag. Squeeze out as much air as possible before sealing the bags. Write down the storage date and then stick it in the freezer.
Freezing fresh herbs in oil
Freezing in oil is perhaps the best technique when it comes to preserving the flavor of aromatic herbs. This is an excellent way to preserve hardier herbs like rosemary, sage, thyme, and oregano. It’s also a great technique for freezing basil to make pesto!
The great thing about freezing herbs in oil is that you can customize the herbs to create your own flavor concentrate. For example, you can combine sage, thyme, and rosemary and freeze them in oil for instant fried chicken flavor!
One thing to consider when choosing this technique is the quality of the oil. For starters, you need to use an oil that is tasteless. You don’t want the natural flavor of the oil to overpower the flavor of the herbs. Good quality olive oil is one of the best oils to use for this technique. The delicate flavor of the oil will enhance the flavor of the herbs. If olive oil isn’t available, you can use coconut oil or melted butter.
After preparing the herbs for freezing, prepare several ice cube trays. Place the herbs in each ice cube slot and pour in the oil. Make sure the oil covers the herbs well. Stick the herbs in the freezer and let them freeze for about an hour.
When the diced herbs are frozen stiff, prepare several fun-sized resealable plastic bags. Take the ice cube tray out of the freezer and fill it up with the herb cubes. Place everything in the resealable plastic bag and squeeze out the air before sealing. Write down the storage date and then stick it in the freezer.
Freezing fresh herbs in broth
Yes, you can freeze fresh herbs with a broth of your choice. Depending on the recipe, you can use beef, chicken, or a mix of both. The steps are similar to freezing fresh herbs in oil, simply prepare the herbs and then place them in ice cube trays. Pour in the broth, just enough to fill each cube slot. Make sure the broth covers the fresh herbs well.
Stick the ice cream trays in the freezer and let them freeze for about 2 hours. Once the herbs are frozen solid, remove the ice cube trays from the freezer and allow the herb cubes to be diced. Place everything in small resealable plastic bags, squeezing out the air before sealing. Write the storage date with a marker, then stick it in the freezer.
Freezing certain types of herbs
If you’re looking to freeze a specific type of herb, check out our step-by-step guide below:
Dill is a soft herb that requires care when preparing to freeze.
The tangy, tangy flavor of cilantro adds vibrant flavor to fresh salads and stir-fries. It’s also a common herb used in Mexican and Asian cuisine.
From pizza to salads, the distinct aroma of basil adds beautiful dimension to any dish. But how do you freeze basil?
How to thaw frozen fresh herbs
Slow thawing is best when using the herbs to make salads, marinades, and condiments. Slowly thawing frozen fresh herbs is so easy; simply move the container from the freezer to the fridge. Let the herbs thaw for several hours.
If you use the herbs to cook soups, stews, etc., you don’t need to defrost the herbs at all. Simply add some of the frozen herbs to the pot and the herbs will thaw while the dish cooks.
Fresh herbs leave more room for experimentation. If you spend a lot of time in the kitchen, it pays to stock up on fresh herbs for your next culinary adventure.
While freezing fresh herbs requires multiple steps, the time it takes to preserve those flavors is certainly worth the effort. Now that you know how to freeze fresh herbs, you no longer need to worry about what to do with your leftover aromatics!