Using fresh herbs instead of dried will, oftentimes, give your meal a serious upgrade. However, as anyone who’s come across a bunch of cilantro or basil in their produce drawer, reduced to a slimy mess, will tell you, fresh herbs don’t often last long enough for you to use the entire batch.
Just because this might be the case, though, don’t think that your options are just slime in the produce drawer or stocking up on dried herbs that will sit in your pantry for years until you finally use up all that oregano or rosemary.
You can have your fresh herbs, when and how you need them, if you just use this basic hack that keeps your fresh herbs, fresh, for up to a year.
How to Freeze Fresh Herbs for Easy Use, Whenever
Once you have the sneaking suspicion your fresh, leafy green herbs are about to go bad and you’re sure you’re not going to use them in time, toss them in a blender with a bit of oil. Blend until smooth (just like you might when making pesto), then portion the oil-and-herbs mixture into an ice cube tray (consider freezing the herbs in portions of a tablespoon or teaspoon for easier use in recipes later).
Freeze and then you can either pop the frozen cubes out of the tray for saving in a freezer bag or you can leave the cubes in the tray until you’re ready to use them (make sure the tray itself is tucked into an air-tight bag or that the tray features an air-tight lid). Whatever you do, once you’re ready to add some fresh, herby goodness to your next meal, all you’ll need to do is melt the cube in a skillet or, if you’re making something like a pasta sauce or soup, just add the cube right to whatever you’re cooking.
No oil on hand? You can also do the same thing with water. If you don’t want to break out the blender, you can also rough-chop the herbs before freezing, too. Additionally, if you don’t have an extra ice cube tray at the ready, you can simply pour the mixture into a freezer bag; however, this method does mean the herbs won’t be pre-portioned, and you’ll need to thaw the entire bag of herbs at one time.
Herbs That Freeze Well
Using the above method, most herbs will last in the freezer for about a year.
Herbs that freeze well include…
If you’re freezing a particularly odorous herb, consider double-bagging the frozen herbs to ensure the odor doesn’t leak into any of the other food items stored in your freezer.
The only time that you might not want to freeze your herbs? If you plan on using them mostly for garnishes.
While frozen fresh herbs still taste great, they don’t look that great once they’re defrosted. However, if you add them into a cooked dish, no one will ever know that the oregano you’re using to season your favorite pasta dish at the holidays was purchased at the farmers market over the summer.