How often do you bring home a long branch of garden-fresh rosemary, only to use a few sprigs and trash the rest? Like meat, vegetables, and even bread, storing herbs in your freezer is a great way to prevent unnecessary food waste, while extending the life of your herbs and adding ease to future meal prep. And, now, there’s an even better way to preserve these herbs: in olive oil!
Freezing herbs in olive oil is a good way to keep your herbs fresh while reducing some of the browning and freezer burns that herbs can experience when frozen as-is. Adding oil also eliminates a step further down the line. Since many recipes call for oil, to begin with, you can simply remove a cube of frozen oil from your freezer and use it as the base of your dish.
However, it’s important to note that not all herbs are well-suited to freezing, even with oil present. “Hard” herbs, or those with tougher leaves or stalks, will do well with freezing in oil. These include rosemary, sage, thyme, and oregano. On the other hand, “soft” herbs, like mint, basil, lemon verbena, and dill, don’t respond well to preserving, and often taste better in recipes when raw.
Want to preserve your very own herbs for later use? Here is an easy, 8-step way to safely freeze your favorite herbs in olive oil or butter:
• Choose firm, fresh herbs, ideally from the market or your own garden.
• If you wish, you can chop them finely, or leave them in larger sprigs and leaves.
• Pack the wells of ice cube trays about 2/3 full of herbs.
• Pour extra-virgin olive oil or melted, unsalted butter over the herbs.
• Cover lightly with plastic wrap and freeze overnight.
• Remove the frozen cubes and store them in freezer containers or small bags.
• Don’t forget to label each container or bag with the type of herb (and oil) inside!
When you’re ready to use your herbs, simply throw them into your skillet, soup, casserole, or other dish and allow the flavors to permeate your recipe. Yum!
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