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
1. Freezing will give you more of a fresh flavor to your herbs
2. Freezing herbs is simpler than drying
3. 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!)
4. Of course, dehydrated foods take up less room and you will not take up freezer space with the herbs if your space is limited.
5. There are cost differences. See my post on Which Saves Most – Dehydrating, Canning, or Freezing?
Now, there is 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 something else more meaningful. Like my family, the Word, serving others.
How to Freeze Herbs
1. Wash herbs
2. Pat dry
3. 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!
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4. 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 :-). I use small plastic bags from Country Life Natural Foods and they are great. I get the 4x2x8 size. They come in various sizes and in serious bulk so you can store away for cheap! These on Amazon appear to be the same. A MUST, however, for this, in my mind, is Twixit Clips. I use these for EVERYTHING in my home. Trust me, you will be so thrilled to be done with those pesky twist ties.
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 a half a cube, then trying to chop one of those would not be something that I would look forward to doing!
For More Related Information:
– Check out my post on cilantro, as I recommended above.
– For more on food preservation, read my dehydrating series, starting with Saving Money by Dehydrating. You'll learn how to save lots of money!
– Again, to read about all of the food preservation methods, read my post on Which Saves Most, Dehydrating, Canning, or Freezing?