Thursday, May 10, 2012

Harvesting and Preserving Herbs

Time to harvest some of the herbs already!  I dry and freeze some herbs from the garden surplus to enjoy later in the year.  Herbs with a high water content preserve very well freezing. The herbs will become limp in the process, but their flavor will be intact. Frozen herbs will keep their flavor for several months. Unlike dried herbs, where the flavor gets more concentrated when drying, frozen herbs can be used in the same proportion as fresh herbs.
I use a couple of methods to freeze my herbs:
Freezing Herbs without added water:
1.Harvest the freshest, healthiest leaves.
2.Wash, if necessary, and pat dry with paper towels.
3.Spread the individual leaves on a small tray. Freezing the leaves flat and individually will prevent them from freezing together into a brick.
4.Cover and place the tray of leaves into the freezer.
5.When frozen solid, place in airtight containers and return to the freezer.

Ice Cube Method:
(the method I am using today)
1.Harvest the freshest, healthiest leaves.
2.Wash, if necessary.
3.Place a couple individual leaves or chopped herbs in ice cube trays.
4.Fill the tray half way with water. Make sure the leaves are down into the water, as best you can. They will tend to float, but we'll fix that with the next step. Place the half filled tray in the freezer.
5.Once the ice cubes are pretty much frozen, finish filling the try with water. The leaves will no longer be able to float and should be completely surrounded with water. Now place the tray back into the freezer to freeze solid.
6.Once the ice cubes are frozen, remove from the tray and store in zip closure bags.
7.When ready to use, toss the whole ice cube into your favorite stew or dish.

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