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Tried & Tested: Freezer Herbs

November 19, 2009

Freezer Herbs

Fresh herbs are a bit of a rarity here.  In due course we’re hoping to have a small herb garden up and running but clearly that’s a mid to long term solution.  In the meantime we have to make do with what’s available in the fruitaria, the fruit and vegetable shop.

Unlike in the UK supermarkets simply don’t stock many herbs regularly.  Corriander is widely available, and is absurdly cheap, but it is considered more a salad leaf than a herb.  Basil grows very well and is often cultivated in huge pots in restaurants to deter flies.  There’s a place in Larnaka that has an avenue of basil trees five feet tall for that very reason.

Those apart both of our regular fruitarias tend to have a single box of cut bunches of herbs.  Sometimes there’s a bunch of chives, occasionally some mint, and from time to time rosemary and thyme may make a rare appearance.  So, when we find something we tend to buy it and then try and figure out how we can make it last.

With that in mind, some of the lightly woody herbs not only freeze well but do so in such a way to reduce the necessary prep work.  How can this not be a good thing?!

So …

  • Wash the herbs, discarding any stalks that are damaged or tired
  • Line up the stalks as much as possible and place them in a sturdy freezer bag
  • Place the bag in the freezer, flat on the freezer plate if possible
  • Periodically (and ideally when the freezer is open for something else) rub the stalks, through the sealed bag, between your hands
  • Smile as you realise that all of the work of stripping the leaves is being done for you by the freezer
  • When the stalks are pretty bare snip a corner off the bag and decant the leaves into small container(s)

The total work is probably less than 10 minutes.  In return for that you get a handy stash of fresh herbs with no wastage.  The herbs can be used straight from frozen, just as you would fresh.

Freshly washed thyme

Bagged and ready for the freezer

Part-way through the freezing process

Part-way through the freezing process. Leaves at the bottom, stalks near the top

Snip the corner from the bag, decant. No mess, no waste and very little work

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