Can you freeze fresh sage, thyme, lavender?
I've just cut back almost all of my basil and I'm going to chop it up and freeze it in little tubs, along with some olive oil.
I have lots of other herbs growing out back that will die when the first frost comes, which will be in about 4-6 weeks, I suppose. Can I freeze those, too, along with some olive oil, as I'm doing with the basil? Or is drying it the only way to go?
I've had great success freezing most herbs. It's a lot easier than drying them. I think they retain a lot more flavor and certainly some of their shape and color too.
I don't even remove rosemary or thyme from the stems. Just clip it to lengths that will fit into zipper freezer bags. The leaves often fall right off the stems when you pull it out of the freezer. Chop them while still frozen. They'll wilt when you cook them - fresh or frozen - so I think they do much better than dried.
Even though I have them in my garden all winter, their flavor is much less intense than the summer herbs I'm harvesting now so it's worth my while to freeze the strong ones like thyme, rosemary and sage. Basil isn't the same without heat and long daylight.
I chop parsley before freezing. You can break off chunks or easily scrape off what you need from the block. It does get some frost build up since it has so much moisture so it won't last through the winter. I just plan on buying more when I run out.
Cilantro? Sigh. If you have recipes where it is used for flavor in liquid, you can freeze it in small ice cubes of that liquid. Tomato juice, oil, water. It discolors, wilts and looks awful but tastes OK. I don't bother any more.
Two replies -
Candy - I am in Northern New York so I guess that's a sage zone in winter! I bring the rosemary pot in and use it all winter fresh. I wish I could use your lavendar hints but I can't get it to grow for me.
MSense - I have good luck freezing cilantro. I wash it well, shake most of the water off and put it in the cuisinart with a little bit of olive oil. I chop it very fine and throw it in a ziploc bag. I try to spread it out in the bag so it's less than a half inch thick. Then I break off small chunks all winter long. It keeps the flavor well and is not watery. The color is darker than fresh, but still a nice green. I think the oil makes the difference.
I leave sage on the plant and pick it through the snow ;)
If you don't want to use the microwave, try air drying your herbs. Bundle up a few, secure them with rubber bands (they will contract as the stems wither and the herbs won't fall), stick them upside down into paper bags and secure the tops with rubber bands. Hang anywhere with a moderate, constant temperature. They'll dry out fine.
That is especially good for lavender. I was taught to weave lavender bottles some time ago and they are really nice to hang in linen closets and clothes closets. It involves cutting lavender with long supple stems. You need an irregular number. You gather them together and pull up the stems enclosing the blooms. Then weave baby ribbon in and out among the stems and securing at the top with a bow. Google might have a pictorial on making them.
Another interesting use for lavender is making a liqueur with it. There is a recipe in the most recent copy of Imbibe magazine. It is a new and very good. It is not just about booze, wine and spirits but all sorts of beverages. I bought a copy and subscribed on line as soon as I finished reading it.
I have also let sage go into the4 winter and just brushed snow off of it and I have had some luck with finding parsley fresh in the snow and that was when I lived in northern New York state. I am trying a new rosemary this year that is supposed to winter over. We'll see. But, I planted a southern magnolia I lugged back up from Tennessee which was not supposed to grow or thrive here. It is well over 12' tall and i stopped counting the blooms I got this year.
I just found this pictorial on lavender bottles:
Yeah, I thought you might say that. I don't know why I have such an attachment to wanting to freeze things.
So, do you just nuke them and them check them every 30 seconds or so to see if they're done?
And then you just store them? In glass jars or ziplock containers or tupperware?