It's summer. That means gardens and CSAs.
And for us, right now, that means lots of fresh herbs. Basil. Parsley. Dill...
Are you wondering what to do with all of it?
Actually, for that reason, I almost never bought fresh herbs, mostly because I didn't know what to do with the leftovers!
Two years ago when we got a whole bunch of parsley and basil, I just dried everything and it worked great. But this year, I thought that I sure would like to have some fresh-tasting herbs throughout the year, so I got down to figuring out how to preserve them without drying. And what I found was remarkably easy and worked out great!
First of all, let me say that of course, you can choose to either dehydrate or freeze your leftover herbs (canning doesn't work that well :-)). Now, I love my dehydrator, and I love dried herbs, but here are some things to think about on both sides of the coin:
Freezing Versus Dehydrating Herbs
Here are some of the differences between freezing and dehydrating herbs.
1. Freezing will give you more of a fresh flavor to your herbs
2. Dehydrating doesn't work for all herbs (cilantro does not dry well. See my post on 6 Super Tips for Cilantro for more info on this great herb!)
3. Of course, dehydrated foods take up less room and you will not take up freezer space with the herbs if your space is limited.
4. There are cost differences. See my post on Which Saves Most - Dehydrating, Canning, or Freezing?
Now, there's quite a bit of information out there about freezing herbs, with three main techniques that seem to be the mainstays.
They consisted of:
- freezing in single layers
- freezing chopped herbs in ice cube trays, and
- freezing herbs with oil as a preparation for making pesto.
All of them were too much work for me. I know--it sounds like I am just lazy, but really it's just that I have too much going on and need to cut corners somewhere.
So I ended up trying something easy, doable and workable -- and it worked!
'Cause that's what I need. Less fuss. Like my post this past week on The Easiest Way to Peel Garlic.
Get the job done so that I can get onto other things!
What You Will Need
Herbs (of course)
Food Safe Plastic Bags (I love the bags at Country Life Natural Foods, but this type and this type on Amazon seem to be pretty similar.) Code WHOLENEWMOM gets a great discount at Country Life, however, and they have great prices on lots of quality foods and things.
Twixit Clips - I use these for EVERYTHING! These clips from IKEA are another great choice. Buy a bunch because you literally will be addicted to using them for ALL the bags in your house!
More Food Preservation Posts
You might also want to check out these posts for other ways to preserve your bounty....
- 4 Ways to Freeze Avocados (yes, you can do this!!)
- How to Freeze Berries
- 4 Ways to Freeze Bananas
- How to Freeze Tomatoes--No Blanching and No Peeling!
- Homemade Sun-dried Tomatoes
- How to Store Prepared Beans
- How To Freeze Cucumbers--a Complete Guide
How to Freeze Herbs
- Wash herbs.
- Pat dry.
- Leave out overnight to dry completely (You can dry the herbs on any flat surface, but one with ventilation will work best. A cooling rack would be a good option. I used the trays from my Excalibur Dehydrator. See, you can even use your dehydrator to freeze herbs!
- Place in plastic bags and take out as much air as possible. (You can even stick a straw in the bag to suck the air out if you like. I have not done that yet, however, but I want to!
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That's it! Quick and easy. And really, I don't see the need for freezing in single layers like berries. My herbs come out of the bags easily and I can simply chop up or break off whatever amount I need for a recipe. In fact, I don't think it makes sense to freeze in cubes. If you end up needing half a cube, then trying to chop one of those would not be something that I would look forward to doing!
Don't Have a Dehydrator?
I know that not all of you have one. Obviously, for this technique, you don't need the whole machine--just the trays. You could buy some circular trays here and have a handy dandy herb dehydrating system on the cheap!
Of course, with all of the great things you can do with a dehydrator, I HIGHLY recommend one--they are coming out with all kinds of new designs too. So many great ones to choose from. You can check them all out here.
Do you grow your own herbs?