Freezing fresh herbs?
In my freezer, I have a ziplock bag of bay leaves. As usual, the "logic" that went into my decision to freeze instead of dry makes sense only to me.
My question(s) is: will these bay leaves still be any good, is there any good reason to freeze herbs, and if not, what's the best way to dry or otherwise preserve fresh herbs?
I just froze my garden basil this morning. I take the stems and place them in a sink full off cool water. (This is after I have washed my SS sink in hot water and vinegar to make sure there is no cross contamination.) I try not to manhandle them or they bruise but swish them around a lot to make sure and get the grit off. I lay them on a clean tablecloth to dry thoroughly (flip after an hr or so to get the whole thing dry). I place them stem and all in huge freezer bags; I snip the long ones in half. When I need basil for sauce or stews, I take them out and put them in frozen.
Alternately, I take leaves off stem, wash in same process and then dry in my salad spinner; freeze immediately. I have done the oil and basil trick for pestos, but I don't use that a whole lot.
I freeze chopped Italian parsley. Never tried rosemary but would love to.
Rosemary freezes like a dream. Place the stems in zipper freezer bags.
If space is a problem, freeze it on the stems, then you will find that the "needles" strip off easily by running your fingers against the direction they grow and you can store them in much less space in a smaller bag.
Like many other herbs, the flavor in rosemary is oil-borne and deteriorate much more quickly when dried and exposed to air. It keeps better well-sealed in the freezer. It will taste like fresh. You can throw it into your recipes right out of the freezer.
Happy to report that my bay leaves survived the freezing process (thanks to dfrostnh's tip) and are eagerly awaiting a dunk in fall soups.
Can't wait to buy my separate herb ice cube tray. Now I'm off to read the doznes of other preservation threads so that I can keep all this summer goodness into the winter.
I was just at the store and bought parsely. When I got home I noticed I already had a good bunch. So I took the older stuff and chopped it up, wrapped it in paper towels and put it in a small tupperware. It was either do that or throw it away.
After all, you can buy little frozen cubes of basil and cilantro. Why not freeze the parsely?
Haven't tried to freeze fresh bay leaves. If they aren't black, try heating one in a cup of water to see how the flavor is. Some herbs are easy to dry but some are better preserved some other way. For my, thyme dries easily in a basket on the counter. Sage and rosemary dry fine hung upside down in a brown paper bag (to keep to dust off). I have a recipe (somewhere) for salted herbs that was very interesting for preserved a mixture of minced parsley and things I can't remember with salt and stored in the frig. A friend did a great job drying basil but I've never done it successfully. I would rather puree with some oil and store in the freezer. Tarragon loses its flavor easily so I'd rather just make some tarragon vinegar or mustard. With chives I just cut finely into a freezer bag and put in the freezer. Last year for the first time ever I was able to keep my rosemary plant alive all winter inside. A friend keeps her well misted with a nearby humidifier until they get too big.
I freeze kaffir lime leaves all the time - they are very similar to bay leaves. In the short run (think 3 months) freezing leaves like bay should work better than drying - as oils are less likely to oxidize and dissipate. However in the longer term they will begin to dry out via freezer burn and this will probably be more damaging than traditional drying.
I keep my frozen herbs in Foodsaver vacuum bags - and they last a long time - I have kaffir lime leaves that are at least a year old and are still great.