We’ve had such a nice variety of herbs in the CSA shares already! Huge bunches of basil that may as well be bouquets, cilantro made a brief appearance and more is coming, this week we have great bunches of dill, and we will also have more parsley, curly and flat-leaf. When we get lots of basil in the CSA shares I really love making big bunches of pesto to freeze, but freezing small amounts of herbs to pull out and use for recipes is another great way to use up these bunches. You’ll find that the bunches of herbs in our CSA shares are much larger than typical bunches from the store.
Fresh herbs can be classified into two groups, soft herbs like basil, dill, cilantro, parsley, chives; and hard herbs like rosemary, sage, and thyme. On the farm we mainly grow soft herbs, because annual plants work better for our current farming practices. Some people prefer not to freeze soft herbs, but I have gotten good results. The flavors mellow a bit in the freezer, so you’ll want to use a little bit more than you normally would. Soft herbs are best frozen in oil or water, and hard herbs can be frozen on the stalk. Check out our Guide to Herbs for more info! It’s so quick to freeze herbs in water, any ice cube tray will work, and once you chop the vegetables it’s just a matter of filling the trays and sticking them in the freezer.
I’ve found that when using water filling the trays about halfway with herbs is the best option. They float a little and you want to make sure they are totally submerged. Tuck any herbs back into the water before freezing. The olive oil is denser, and you can fill the trays a little fuller with herbs. Depending on your freezer this should be ready fairly quickly, mine were done in just two hours. I skipped this step, but once frozen, it helps to top the the trays off with another thin layer of liquid, this will ensure the herbs are totally submerged.
Transfer the cubes to freezer safe jars or containers and label. Frozen herbs keep for several months. I froze a mix of herbs in the same trays, because I found them pretty easy to identify. They are safe in labelled containers now in case I forget. If you’re worried about mixing them up, just keep it to one herb per tray. Herbs frozen in water are perfect for adding to soups and stews, just stir them in frozen and let them thaw at the end of cooking. You can also add them to braises, or sautéed vegetables. Herbs frozen in olive oil can be thawed for flavorful salad dressings or used as the base of dishes. Cook onions and garlic in thawed herb olive oil.