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Jul 24, 2007 09:34 AM

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?

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  1. agf,
    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.

    1. 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.

      3 Replies
      1. re: dfrostnh

        I've had good luck freezing tarragon, myself; could be something like a different growth stage I suppose.

        1. re: cmkdvs

          Would this apply to basil as well?

          1. re: sds

            freeze basil in olive oil, or make the most simple pesto (evoo, basil, garlic, salt) and keep in fridge. when ready to serve, add the nuts and parm. basil frozen by itself blackens and oxidizes.

      2. 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?


        2 Replies
        1. re: puppymomma

          I always do cubes with leftover herbs. Blend with a little olive oil and pack into ice cube trays. Pop them out and store in ziplock or plastic containers. They stay much nicer than loose in a bag and you can just take out what you need for the recipe.

          1. re: Nyleve

            I don't bother with the cubes or the oil. I chop basil, parsley, cilantro, etc up and lay it flat on plastic wrap (in sort of a rectangle). Then freeze in freezer bags. I just break off what I need. It will never have the look of fresh, but the taste is fine.

        2. 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.

          1. Can i freeze rosemary? I bought a bunch for some lamb I was making the other night and now I have all this rosemary and no clue what to do with it. Am i better off drying it? How would you dry it?

            1 Reply
            1. re: noorie

              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.