Ask a Local Master Gardener: Too many herbs? Here’s how to freeze them

  • Using all of the herbs in your garden can be a challenge, so try freezing your extras.  TNS/RENEE ITTNER-MCMANUS

For the Gazette
Published: 9/13/2019 3:00:17 AM
Modified: 9/13/2019 3:00:07 AM

Q: I have too many herbs! What do I do with them all? I have parsley, sage, thyme, basil and oregano. —R.D., Northampton

A: Me, too, R.D.! This is when your freezer becomes your best friend. Time to bring on the extra ice cube trays, move the frozen peas out of the way, and make room for a mini frozen herb bonanza! While nothing beats the taste, aroma, and texture of freshly picked herbs, freezing is a good second option for getting the most out of your herb garden.

Thawed herbs will be perfect for flavoring your autumn and wintertime soups, stews, and pesto pasta dinners where their post-freeze softness blends in seamlessly. Here are three common ways to freeze extra herbs. See what works best for you.

Freezing herbs in oil works well for pesto and soups where both the herb and the oil are needed. To do this, first wash and pat dry your herbs and remove any thick stems (thin parsley stems are fine). Then get out either your knife and finely chop small quantities or your food processor and puree larger ones. Combine the cut-up herbs with neutral-tasting oil or olive oil. A good ratio is 1 cup herbs (remember to press them firmly in the cup) to ¼ cup olive oil. Simply stir or pulse the mixture, then pour into ice cube trays. Once frozen, transfer the cubes to freezer bags, pressing out all the air, or other airtight, freezer-proof container. If you would like to preserve whole leaves, place them in the tray and cover in oil to freeze.

Freezing herbs in ice cubes is another option. This method is especially good for tender herbs such as your parsley and other herbs that do not complement oil, such as mint. Again, wash and pat herbs dry. Remove leaves from stems. Pack your ice cube trays with chopped or whole herbs, cover them with water until a bit below the top of the cube so the cubes have room to expand, then freeze. Once frozen, knock out the cubes and store in a freezer bag with the air pressed out or other airtight, freezer-proof container.

Freezing your herbs on the stem can work well, too. Simply cut them to a manageable size, spread them flat on a cookie sheet, and put the sheet in the freezer. Once frozen, place the stemmed herbs in a freezer bag labeled by herb name, press out the air, then store them back in your freezer either flat or rolled up with a rubber band. If you prefer to go stemless, after 1-2 weeks of freezing, take the bags out of the freezer, remove the frozen leaves by hand or rolling pin, then repack just the leaves in the freezer bag, packing them all together in the bottom and again expelling the air.

Preserving food is a great cost saver plus you can give yourself a pat on the back for making good use of your productive garden. Thanks for asking a (local) Master Gardener, R.D.

Have a gardening dilemma? Please send questions, along with your name/initials and community, to the Western Massachusetts Master Gardener Association at AskAMasterGardener@wmmga.org. One question will be answered per week. wmmga.org


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