How to store Fresh Herbs for the Winter

There are always great deals at this time of the year on herbs at the Farmer’s Market and/or from the produce company. It is the time of year when the last fresh harvest is coming in. Herbs are getting picked before the first frost does them in so there is generally a surplus of supply resulting in lower prices.

Take advantage of this and freeze your herb stash.

There are three schools of thought on the best way to preserve fresh herbs to use them over the winter.

1. Air tight plastic bag in the freezer.

This method takes the least amount of time to prepare. However, the herbs tend to discolor some when thawed out and chopped (basil and oregano tend to turn black).

2. Make a pesto and freeze it.

Depending on your application, this method works great…as long as you are putting the herbs in something that can have a little oil in it (so using a frozen pesto cube in soup tends to give your finished product an oil slick on the surface).

Here is a basic pesto recipe:

Ingredients Makes about 1 cup

2 pounds soft herbs (basil, oregano, parsley, etc.)

2/3 cup olive oil

Pinch of salt

Optional: pine nuts, walnuts, cheese, garlic

Directions

Put everything in the food processor and pulse until you have a chunky pesto sauce.

3. Herbaceous ice cubes.

Again, this depends on your application. If what you are putting the herb in can stand to have a bit of water in it, then it works the best. This means that tossing it in a hot skillet with oil and vegetables or meat however is not something we would recommend.

Here is the process to make herbaceous ice cubes:

Directions

Rough chop your herbs.

Pack ice cube trays with rough chopped herbs.

Cover herbs in each tray with water.

Freeze.

Once completely frozen, fill the ice cube tray the rest of the way up with cold water.

Freeze.

Based on these three methods, we suggest using a mix of them.

Hearty herbs; like rosemary, sage and bay leaf, work great with the freeze in the bag method.

Soft herbs; like basil, thyme, oregano and parsley, tend to work best with the other two methods. We suggest making a mix of the two.

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