I love fresh herbs. I love the fragrance of fresh herbs. I love the flavor of fresh herbs. I love the pop of color fresh herbs bring to a dish. I want to wear one of those "I ♥ NY" T- shirts, except I want it to say "I ♥ Fresh Herbs."
But what I don't love about them is buying an entire bunch for a recipe that only calls for two sprigs and watching the rest slowly die in my refrigerator. Or starting a marinara sauce only to realize, "Shiiiite, I forgot the basil!" (Don't even get me started on dried basil -- I just can't do that to my beautiful, fresh sauce). Fortunately, in true I-have-way-too-much-time-on-my-hands fashion, I've stumbled across a solution on the interwebs: my freezer.
Freezing fresh herbs is amazingly simple and, even better, the flavor will keep for months. I like to freeze herbs with high water content, like basil, parsley, chives, tarragon and mint, in an ice cube tray. That way, when I need a punch of flavor for soups, stews, or sauces I can pop my pre-portioned herbs right into the pot. Harder herbs like rosemary or thyme can also be frozen. All that's needed is a freezer bag.
Here's what I do for both:
Soft herbs like basil: Remove stems, wash leaves, and pat dry with kitchen towel. Chop or slice into a chiffonade and add to ice cube tray, filling each cube with about 1 tbsp. Fill the cubes with water, stock, sauce, or olive oil - just enough to cover the cubes (if using olive oil, use a little less, about 1 tsp to fresh herbs and mix). I like to have a variety, so I fill up a few of each. Place the ice cube tray in freezer and leave it for about 8-10 hours. Then pop the entire tray or the individual cubes into freezer bags, removing as much air as possible and closing tightly. When I need some fresh herb flavor, I put the cubes right into my pan sauce or homemade stock.
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Hard herbs like rosemary: Wash herbs and pat dry with kitchen towel. Place herbs (stems and all) in freezer bags, closing tightly. Freeze 8-10 hours, then strip leaves from stems and freeze in airtight containers. These frozen herbs are great for use in rubs, sauces, soups, and stews.
No more cooking without that fresh flavor for me.