Do you use your freezer to preserve herbs, vegetables, or fruit? The freezer can be a powerful, overlooked method of preserving. Pesto, strawberry puree, tomato soup – stash them away now for colder times! One of my favorite ingredients, a handful of fresh herbs from the garden, is one of the simplest things to preserve in the freezer, and I just learned a new, better way to freeze herbs: In oil!
It’s a great way to have herbs ready immediately for winter stews, roasts, soups, and potato dishes. These dishes usually call for oil to start with, and so you can take a cube of frozen oil, herbs inside, out of the freezer and use this as the base of your dish. Cook the onions and garlic in this herb-infused oil and let the taste of herbs spread through your whole dish.
Soft herbs such as mint, basil, lemon verbena, and dill are usually added raw to a dish, and they don’t respond as well to this kind of preserving. Their fresh taste is changed in the freezer, and honestly, I don’t usually choose to freeze these delicate sorts of herbs at all, with the exception of homemade basil pesto.
8 Steps for Freezing Herbs in Oil
- Choose firm, fresh herbs, ideally from the market or your own garden.
- If you wish, you can chop them fine. Or leave them in larger sprigs and leaves. Here I froze a combination of finely-chopped and whole herbs such as rosemary, fennel stalk, sage, and oregano.
- Pack the wells of ice cube trays about 2/3 full of herbs.
- You can mix up the herbs, too; think about freezing a bouquet garni of sage, thyme, and rosemary to add to winter roast chickens and potatoes!
- 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 in freezer containers or small bags.
- Don’t forget to label each container or bag with the type of herb (and oil) inside!