HERE AT A GARDEN FOR THE HOUSE, I’m storing my home-grown produce for the long, cold months ahead. And this includes a year’s supply of culinary herbs. To best preserve the aromatic oils of the leaves, I rely on these easy, herb-specific freezing-techniques:
Herbal “Cigars”. This is a great way to store lovage, sage, Italian parsley, and other large, flat-leaved herbs. To use, simply cut off a portion of the cigar, and return the rest to the freezer-bag and seal it tightly. Here’s how you roll them:
Remove stems from sage or flat-leaved parsley. Rinse the leaves if you must, but then pat perfectly dry by blotting with a terry towel (wet leaves tend to blacken or turn to mush when frozen).
Chop 2 cups of leaves with 1/2 cup (or so) of olive oil in the food processor, then spoon this “pesto” into ice-cube trays. After cubes have frozen solidly, transfer to freezer-bags. Some time during winter, thaw a few cubes, then blend with garlic, pine nuts and parmesan cheese, and poof! — you have pesto for your pasta. You can also drop the cubes in simmering soup.
Cut sprigs from plants, lay them out on a paper-towel-lined baking sheet, and flash-freeze. One day later, give the sprigs a toss. Almost every leaf will shake loose from its stem (well, they shake lose for me). Discard stems, shape the paper towel into a funnel, and pour the leaves into air-tight jars or plastic tubs, then freeze.
With herbs in your freezer, you won’t have to rely on limp and tasteless (and shockingly-expensive) “fresh” herbs from the supermarket. When cooking, use frozen herbs exactly as you would fresh.
Frozen herbs will retain their flavor for up to one year.
In the comments field below, I hope you’ll tell me which herbs you grew this year, and whether or not you intend to preserve them for winter use. As always, I love hearing from you.
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