Herbal Ice Cubes

Freezing Herbs in Ice and Oil



Freezing is a very economical and efficient way to preserve summers bounty. Freezing herbs in some instances leeches away much of its flavor and essential oils. One method of freezing herbs that works exceptionally well is freezing herbs in ice cubes. Herbs can be frozen individually or in conjunction with other herbs that will compliment one another's flavors.

Basil is one of my favorites but the ice cube method also works well with chives, cilantro, fennel, lovage, mints, oregano and marjoram, parsley, rosemary, sage, tarragon and thyme.

DIRECTIONS

Mince the herb or herbs.

Pack the minced herbs into an ice cube trays, leaving head space equal to about 1/4 of the cubes capacity.

Fill the trays to the top with boiling water which will blanch the herbs and allow their essential oils to infiltrate and permeate the water. Place it in the freezer right away, they only need to be blanched not turned into soup.


Herbs Frozen in Ice Cubes

Once your herbal ice cubes are frozen solid, they can be removed from their trays and placed in freezer bags for more compact storage.

Defrost and use as needed. I will frequently add the ice cubes to soups and stews as they are cooking. For herbs suitable for herbal tea simply add them to the hot water and allow them to melt and steep.


Many feel that freezing herbs in oil is a better way to make ice cube herbs.

Preserving herbs in oil, just as in water, will eliminate or at the very least reduce some of the browning that herbs sometimes get in the freezer.

I find that in some cases this true. Harder herbs such as garlic, thyme, oregano, fennel and rosemary that would normally be cooked with a recipe as opposed to being simply added for flavor.

Soft herbs such as basil, mints, and dill which are generally added raw to a dish are best preserved in water ice.

Choose unblemished fresh herbs.

I prefer to chop or mince them beforehand.

Pack the wells of ice cube trays about 3/4 full of herbs.

Pour olive oil or melted, unsalted melted butter over the herbs. Do not add salted butter. The presence of salt reduces the freezing point. The more salt in the water, the lower the freezing point will be. It also interferes with the natural herbal flavors.

Freeze the solid and then transfer to cold storage bags - the same as with water ice herbs.

It is advisable to label each bag with the date and type of herb.



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