What’s the very best way to preserve fresh herbs? It’s taken me a long while to find out!
I’ve been growing herbs such as parsley, basil, chives, tarragon, cilantro, garlic, and dill in my garden since before we were married, but I’ve had to fail many times in order to learn how to preserve those marvelous fresh flavors before the chills and bluster of winter could damage their tender leaves.
Freezing makes them unrecognizable with no texture; drying takes away much of their flavor, and putting them into ice cubes with water? What an unappetizing mess!
So What’s the Secret?
The secret is preserving the essential oils of the herbs.
The essential oil content is the biggest reason for these herb’s distinctive aroma and taste.
Simply drying or freezing them destroys the oils, but freezing them *in oil or butter* (fat, which is like the essential oils of each herb) preserves them beautifully with texture, flavor, and color intact!
And storage of your herb butters and oils is made easy when packaged in thin, flat layers in a quart Ziplock freezer bag.
Directions to Preserve Fresh Herbs in Oil or Butter
- Rinse or wash herbs and remove heavy or thick stems. Pat dry with paper towels.
- Place herbs in food processor with 1/3 cup olive oil or coconut oil for every 2 cups leaves, OR 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick) per 2 -4 cups of leaves.
- For either oils or butters, add garlic or a second compatible herb for extra flavor (ex. parsley and dill).
- In your food processor pulse everything together, scraping down sides of bowl from time to time, until all leaves are chopped and you have a nice consistency.
- Package up 1 cup herb oil or herb butter in a 1-quart freezer bags, burp to remove trapped air, and then flatten. Freeze flat.
- For best flavor, use within 6 months.
A particular herb’s powerful yet fabulous flavor can make an ordinary dish spectacular. Simply break off the approximate amount of herb the recipe calls for, no thawing necessary.
A few ideas how to use them:
Add cilantro in olive oil to Southwestern Corn and black bean salad~
Baked potatoes with Parmesan chive butter~
Throw a wedge of tarragon butter into green beans.
Other ways to use herb butters are to spread them on sandwiches, melt on pasta, or drizzled on popcorn – anything that tastes good with butter and herbs! You can even replace plain butter with herb butter when making savory quick breads or muffins.
Plan to whiz up a few batches of herb butters and oils; you’ll be extravagantly rewarded all winter long with flavorful meals, salad dressings, or even cheesy herb breads or crackers. Oh, how our families will appreciate our good planning.
Hm… I think I have a few more ideas for next year’s herb garden.
Do you use herbs in your recipes?
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This is an excellent idea, Jacqueline. I had to laugh at your description of freezing herbs in water – I agree, it IS a mess, lol. I’ve frozen herbs in butter before to use as a spread, but I really think I’ll take your cue and freeze more than I normally do. The last time I made homemade crackers I added rosemary and garlic and very nearly ate my weight in them. This method will enable me to repeat that event all winter long. 😉 Love your great ideas.
I hope you and your sweet family have a wonderful weekend!
I’ve done this with basil before, and it works great. I’m going to see how it works with lovage, our favorite soup flavoring. Thanks, and have a blessed weekend!
The Aspiring Illustrator
Ooo, this is so handy! Now I need some herbs. 😉
Wonderful idea! I’ve dried my herbs and garden veggies (peppers and onions and the like) but have not tried this. It makes so much sense, and delicious. I’ll definitely be giving this a try. Thank you!
I haven’t spoken to you in a while. Hope everything is going well for you and your family. I wanted to thank you for sharing this post because I had never thought about preserving herbs this way and I see it isn’t hard at all to do so I will be trying it soon.
Have a great day, and God bless you.
Yes, great idea, and perfect timing, too. Thanks for a great tip.
Makes a lot of sense. What measurement do you use in the preparation of a dish, I.e the dish calls for 1 teaspoon of….,,how much frozen herb do you use? Thank you.
Hi, Joan 🙂 If you just add a 1″ x 1″ piece it will often be enough, but if not add a little more or double it. Just do what you think looks good. The herbs will not overpower the dishes so don’t be afraid to experiment and do it to your taste (taste as you go). Have fun 🙂
I hope that helps, friend. Blessings!
Thank you for this tip..I will take your advice,and try the oils,butter,etc..thanks for sharing. Working on the herbs.. Thanks for sharing, Jacqueline! Bless your soul,love reading your website …
It’s not all my idea, JES. A few years ago a friend told me what she was on to and it worked. Now I’m seeing it on pinterest! lol
I have basilicum in the garden. And I am drinking basilicum tea :-)Thanks for your good ideas.
Oh, Aritha, I am not familiar with the name basilicum, but I just looked it up and saw that it is the genus name for basil 🙂 I must try it! We love basil with tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. I love your good ideas, too 🙂 Blessings today!
How surprising! And how simple and obvious the idea seems after you shared it 🙂
I’ve never thought of it before. Thank you for the idea, I am going to give it a try.
Just the idea I was looking for! I see visions of fresh herb fabulousness in my cooking throughout the year! Stopping by from Awesome Life Friday and pinning…
Thanks for sharing at the #InspirationSpotlight Party. Pinned & shared.
This post reminds me that I’ve GOT to get on the ball and replant all my herbs after being away all summer! Thanks so much for joining us at #FridayFrivolity this week!