With Sharon Peterson
Freezing Fresh Herbs Like Oregano, Basil, Parsley, & Sage
Freezing herbs: Three methods. Though all fresh herbs can be frozen or dried, some herbs freeze better than being dehydrated. Freezing fresh herbs answers those questions like, “How can you preserve herbs for winter?” and “What do you do with extra herbs, anyway?”
I’ve got three methods for you today:
- flash frozen individually
- frozen in measured amounts in water
- frozen in oil (my favorite)
But First…What Herbs Freeze Well?
Freezing works well for basil, chives, oregano, lemon balm, mint, or tarragon.
Frozen herbs can be used in the same proportion as fresh herbs. Remember though they will be limp when defrosted. That means they are great used in recipes, but they don’t work well for garnishes!
In the pictures at the top of this page, I am freezing oregano. Other herbs may be frozen using the same methods. And below where I’m freezing herbs in oil, that is basil. Ah, it smells heavenly as you chop, chop, chop.
Your first step will be to harvest and clean your herbs. Simply rinse them if needed in clear water. Then be sure to pat them dry or spin them dry in a salad spinner. Don’t crush them.
You can also roll up the herbs in a tea towel to blot them dry. See pictures on my freezing peas page on how I do it if needed. Again, don’t crush them.
Be sure and label and date your frozen herbs! The herbs will all look similar when frozen and you may not remember which is which later.
Freezing Herbs Method #1 – Freezing Herb Leaves Individually
This is probably the easiest way to start freezing fresh herbs. Simply strip the leaves off the stems and spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet.
Place in the freezer.
As soon as they are frozen, place them in a freezer bag. Label and date. Since the leaves froze separately, you will be able to remove the amount you need.
Freezing Herbs Method #2 – Freezing Herbs in Ice Cube Trays in Water
In this method, you will also strip the leaves off the stems. I like to then chop them as I would if using them fresh. This is optional.
Now take an ice cube tray and fill it halfway full of water. Place your herbs in each section of the tray. I placed about a tablespoon in each. This way, I know when I use them how much each cube holds.
The herbs may float. Don’t worry about it too much. Just get them under the water as much as possible with no fuss. Place your tray in the freezer.
The next day, take them out and top off each cube. The herbs won’t float, and this way, the herbs will be fully covered and frozen. Place again in your freezer.
After the trays are fully frozen, pop out the herb cubes and store in a freezer bag. Be sure to label and date.
The cubes can be used in soups, stews, or other meals.
Freezing Herbs Method #3: Freezing Herbs in Oil
Another great way to freeze herbs is in oil. You will again use an ice cube tray to freeze in cubes. I want smaller amounts of oil, so I’m actually using a small mold. I’m not sure if it is an actual candy mold, but I’d estimate each section holds approximately from 2 tsp to 1 Tbls of oil. That is about what I’d want for some of my recipes. (There are only 3 of us now, so my meals are smaller.)
First, pick the leaves off the stems. Tiny stems are fine, but you probably don’t want any bigger stems. Just think about what you will want in your end recipe. Then, chop your herbs. I pile the leaves up and use a large knife to chop, chop, chop. Using a rolling motion with your knife is best. Then, scoop them together and chop, chop, chop again. You can decide how finely you want them.
Again, just think about how you want the final result to be in your recipe. If you like fuller pieces, just stop before I did.
I chopped mine pretty finely this time around, since I was using my small mold.
You can mix about 1/3 cup of oil with 2 cups of herbs. (Olive oil would work well.) Then freeze in the ice cube trays.
Or do like I did this morning.
I packed my chopped herbs in the trays and then poured extra virgin olive oil over the top. The herbs don’t float like they will in water. (I like to use a spatula to scrape across the top of the tray to make sure all the spots are filled.)
Cover with plastic wrap and put in the freezer. When they are frozen, take them out and place in freezer bags and label. Put back in the freezer and pull them out as you need them.
How to Use Frozen Herbs
To use the individually frozen herbs, you’d just measure as you would fresh and add it to your recipe.
The water-based cubes, you know you have 1 Tbls, so just add a cube to your recipe.
Use the oil cubes as you would the water-based herb cubes. The nice thing about these is the oil. It is all ready for a recipe. Simply melt the oil and the herbs are ready to go.
I use this when I’m roasting veggies. Chop potatoes, carrots, turnips, rutabaga, cauliflower, broccoli, or whatever veggie you are roasting. Melt your oil and drizzle over the top.
Or toss a cube or two in a frying pan to melt, and then cook your chicken or casserole in it.
You don’t want to just leave the cubes of frozen herbs in the trays in the freezer. They will get freezer burned on the areas exposed to the air.
If you are like me and will tend to forget to get the cubes out of the freezer to place them in freezer bags (cause yeah, sometimes we are busy!), put a sticky note on your range hood or somewhere you’ll see it. This will remind you.