Tuesday, September 20, 2016

17 Quick Tip Tuesday: Freezing Herbs

A few weeks ago when I was organizing our fridge and freezer, I was trying to finally come up with a good way to maintain the freshness of our herbs. I find that we prefer to purchase a few specific types of fresh herbs from our local grocery store, but then only use a small amount before the remainder of the bunch goes bad. Not wanting to waste, especially with the cost of some herbs being a fairly expensive, I decided to give the freezing method a try.

I had never heard of freezing herbs before, but then I saw these little packaged herb cubes in our grocery store freezer and thought it would be a great way to make the most of our leftover stems. Turns out this is a thing, and can be done right at home! And it is easy!

The herbs we tend to purchase the most frequently are basil, cilantro and mint. If we think we will be able to utilize all of the herbs within a week, I will just wrap a wet paper towel around the stems and store them in a zipper bag in the fridge. Or I place them in a glass of water with a plastic bag over the top, also storing them in the fridge. Both of these methods have allowed our herbs to gain a few days of freshness, however, nothing much more than that.

There isn't much needed to make this happen, but I thought I would share a few products and tips that worked for us. Like a good ice cube tray! I wanted to be able to use the tray to not only freeze the herbs, but to store them long term in the freezer as well. So a tray with a lid was ideal, and a silicone finish was a perk because the cubes simply pop out once frozen. I also love that these trays are compact for our small freezer drawer, and seem to be the perfect size for freezing the leftovers of a bundle of herbs.

Herbs can be frozen in water, but there is a risk that some of the flavor will be removed during the process. But because both the cilantro and basil are generally cooked right into our dishes, I opted to freeze them in oil instead (which helps with long term flavor retention).

I began with the cilantro, and used an herb stripper to quickly remove all of the leaves from the stems.

I added the cilantro leaves and avocado oil to our mini food processor and just a few seconds later they were ready for the ice cube tray.

A mini spatula was helpful in quickly transferring over the herbs to the tray.

An entire bunch of cilantro processed down to just 12 mini cubes, which was perfect because the second half of the tray was going to be dedicated to the basil.

I repeated the same steps with the basil, however, didn't process the leaves down quite as much as I wanted them to remain a little larger in size. And this time I just used a light olive oil.

If you look closely, you will notice a difference in the leaves, but just to be sure there was no confusion, I also added labels to each side of the tray (made with my label maker).

The final tray was dedicated to mint leaves. I like to add a bit of mint to lemon water and tea and rum and wine and...

Because I use mint for beverages, and more often than for say, a random pasta night, I dedicated an entire tray to the mint.

A quick chop to keep the leaves fairly good sized, I then scattered the mint throughout the empty cubed slots. (Mezzaluna originally purchased here but here is a similar style. I really love using it for chopped salads as well.)

Obviously oil is not a good choice when adding the herbs to beverages, so I just went with straight water for freezing, pouring it over the leaves until all of the cubes were full.

Into the freezer they went and within a few hours I had myself some preserved herbs ready for next week's meal, next month's meal and my weekday glass of lemon water.

If you don't have an ice cube tray that has a cover, another option is to remove the frozen cubes from the tray and keep them in an airtight freezer bag.

I was pleasantly surprised how quick and painless this process was, so I felt really excited to share! In fact, the part that took the longest was the clean up... #ofcourse


  1. Great post! I was just planing on doing something similar and it's nice to see what techniques you used.

  2. I always end up wasting extra herbs I had because they go off so quickly - this is such a good idea!

    - Natalie

  3. I loved this post! A great ice cube tray, a tool for getting those leaves off herbs, and mint in my drinks--all new ideas and products I want to try. Thanks!

  4. For basil, I leave the leaves on the stem, wash, lay out flat to dry, then I put them on wax paper flat, then slide them into a zip lock baggie, then freeze. Perfect.

    1. Thanks for the tip Sue, I will give that method a try as well. :)

  5. What a great idea! Thanks for sharing!

  6. How do you get your labels to stick? When I have tried to use label maker labels on items that go in the freezer, they never seem to stick...

    1. Write on the bag with Magic Marker.

    2. Sometimes I have better luck than others, I find the dryer and cleaner the item I am labeling, the better and longer the stick. The Epson label tape seems to hold up pretty well to moisture and even water (I also use it on my travel toiletry bottles which end up wet in the shower). On these trays, the labels on the lip of the trays stayed no problem, but on the sides came off... I am not really sure what was different... A small dab of clear hot glue might also help hold the label and should also remove when you are ready to change things. Otherwise, I agree, transfer to a baggie and use a marker. :)

  7. I am ALWAYS wasting my herbs. Especially cilantro. Thank you for this, girl. Great ideas.

  8. Replies
    1. Hi Susan,
      How much oil you want to use really just depends on your personal preference. I started with a small amount and just added to the processor until I got the consistency I was after. With the basil, I used less in the processor and ended up filling the tray with the basil first and adding a little oil over the top to fill the cube. Both methods seemed to work equally as well for me.

  9. This is really perfect timing because while I already do this purposefully with basil (and freeze in a 4oz mason jar sealed woth my fresh saver) I have yet to find a good way to store smaller portions of herbs. Ive been searching for a smaller ice cube tray and this is perfect. I already have a mid sized cube tray with silacone bottoms and then I pop them out when frozen and keep in a ziplock, but I just find the cubes to be a little too big sometimes if i just need a tiny bit

  10. Love the ice cube tray trick! Thanks for sharing!

    xo- Gem+Elli

    Insta @gem.and.elli

  11. Whew. I am pregnant and missing my mint-loving adult beverages. Enjoy LOL


  12. Just wondering about your cilantro ... the stems are edible and have much more flavour than the leaves. Maybe next time whiz them with some oil and use them in dishes that need extra flavour?


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