Freezing herbs is a quick and easy way of storing them to use all winter long. There is no need to blanche herbs before freezing.
Harvest herbs when they are at their peak, from full, healthy plants with crisp stalks and green leaves. For best flavor, harvest before herbs produce flowers.
- Harvest early in the day when essential oils are at their peak.
- Most herbs like can be cut back by a third to a half and still keep growing. Keep enough foliage to maintain growth.
- Discard dead, damaged or diseased leaves, or plant parts that are slimy or smell “off”.
Herbs grown in the home garden may become contaminated by harmful pathogens from soil, contaminated water, animals or unfinished compost or manure.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with warm soapy water before washing your herbs.
- Don't wash herbs in the kitchen sink – use a clean container instead to avoid contamination.
- Lightly wash herbs in clean water.
- Air dry your herbs on a clean dry tea towel, or pat dry with paper towels.
The refrigerator is good for short-term storage. Wash and dry your herbs first.
- Wrap loosely in plastic and store in the crisper.
- Or, place freshly cut long-stemmed herbs in a container of water (like flowers in a vase) and loosely wrap plastic over the top.
- Basil is the exception. Cold temperatures causes basil to turn black, so is the fridge still an option? Yes, if you wrap the basil in a tea towel before placing it in the fridge. The insulation of the tea towel will protect it from getting too cold and it will keep for 2 – 3 days.
Tender leafy herbs like dill, parsley, mint and chervil freeze exceptionally well. There is no need to blanche herbs. Some herbs appear darker once they are thawed but this does not affect the flavour. Frozen herbs can be used in soups, sauces, roasts, drinks or dips and keep in the freezer for 6 - 12 months.
- Remove the leaves from the stems and chop (fine or coarse – it’s up to you) washed herbs.
- Wrap small single portions snugly in plastic wrap and place in a freezer bag.
- You can also freeze herbs in ice cube trays. Pack about a tablespoon of chopped or whole leaves into ice cube tray compartments and fill with water. Once frozen, transfer the cubes into a freezer bag. This works well for herbs you use in drinks like mint, lemon balm or stevia. Try the cubes in iced tea.
- Or, freeze herbs in ice cube trays with olive or vegetable oil instead of water. If you like, puree the herb/oil mixture first. This is good for savoury herbs like basil, sage, thyme and rosemary.
- Label and date your packages before storing.