Saturday, 26 January 2008

Freezing fresh herbs

I love using fresh herbs in my cooking but I often find myself left with a substantial bunch after cooking. Although I try to use up the bunch of herbs within the week (they tend to keep well in the vegetable crisper drawer), I don't always succeed and it always seem such a waste to throw the wilted bunch away. It doesn't help that parsley and coriander often come in such huge bunches.

One solution is clearly to grow your own herbs either in pots on the kitchen window sill or in the garden. I have pots of basil and coriander but certainly not the range of herbs that I would like. Another solution, as I have found, is to freeze the herbs for later use. Chopped up and then frozen in small containers, the herbs could be added straight from frozen to stews, soups, pasta and other dishes and they would thaw out from the heat of the food while releasing their natural flavours. Certainly better than dried herbs and makes full use of the fresh herbage that you buy.

Frozen parsley

The picture above shows some chopped up parsley that has been frozen. Coriander, thyme, rosemary and even spring onion and ginger freeze really well. I have not tried it with big leafy herbs such as basil and sage. I suspect the woody or smaller herbs tend to freeze better, but do experiment and let me know.

First, rinse the herbs well and leave to drain or drip dry. Chop them up and then spread on some kitchen rolls to dry well. You want to get rid of excess moisture so that the herbs remain loose and easy to pick out in the right portions, instead of freezing into a clump. Place the chopped herbs into a suitable container and pop into the freezer. Use straight from frozen in stews or sprinkle over food when serving for that extra flavour.

Herbs like parsley and coriander that are often used chopped up should be chopped before freezing. For other herbs such as rosemary and thyme that do not require chopping, you could freeze them stalks and all. Much easier than removing the leaves from the stalks or chopping while they were unfrozen. They become brittle when frozen and you could then just crumble or snap them off the stalks straight into dishes. The lemon thyme in the picture below was completely stiff and brittle and bits of it just broke loose even as I was taking them out of the bag. Just be sure to use them as soon as they come out of the freezer as they thaw very quickly and loose that brittleness that makes them so user-friendly. Frozen herbs should keep well for months.

Frozen lemon thyme 2


Holler said...

great post! Thanks for that, I will try it out soon!

Heather said...

Lovely photos! I can't get over how much that thyme looks like cotoneaster - you got such detail on the leaves!

Pixie said...

Great info, thanks for posting. :)

Jodie said...

Great idea!

Nilmandra said...

Oh my, some of you have commented ages ago and I've forgotten to respond. Sorry!

It works really well, better than I thought initially. Definitely worth having a freezer stash of fresh herbs :)

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