preserving herbs?

sunshinenc(z7 NC)May 28, 2009

I have in the past taken basil leaves, chopped them, and frozen in icecube trays in water to save for future use. Can this be done with any type herbs? I have a ton of cilantro that will bolt soon, as well as parsley, oregano, chives, and thyme.. Thanks for suggestions!

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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Clantro is quite volitile and its flavor dissappears in a few days. Freezing, freeze drying, drying and any other method to help preserve it only give you tasteless green stuff. For cilantro, plant several times 2 weeks apart so you have a longer supply of it. Bolting will give you thinner leaves and they are a bit bitter and tough, but still usuable. Heyond that, its not worth trying to keep ts flavor. I would try it chopped and mixed with bit of water and freeze. You can always toss it out if you find its lost the flavor. Basil, also loses a lot of flavor if its dried or preserved in some form.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2009 at 5:22PM
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Freezing is by far a better alternative than drying, IMO, for many herbs. I don't usually freeze herbs, because I have a year-round supply, but I have frozen basil leaves whole, with success. I'm told that if you chop basil, then freeze it, it will turn black - something to do with the bruising of the leaves with the metal knife. But this can be prevented if you blanch it before freezing it. I've never had the problem, myself.

The thing with coriander and parsley is that they will be limp on thawing, so won't be any good for garnishing purposes - otherwise they're just fine. Chives freeze very successfully. Chop them and make small 'pancakes' of them, put plastic wrap to separate pancakes. That way it's easy to snap off required quantities - beats a hammer and chisel attacking a solid chunk! Do the same with your other herbs.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2009 at 8:19PM
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CA Kate

Here in CA herbs will quickly dry if I just lay them on a plate in the kitchen: I prefer to dry Thyme, Oregano, Sage, Lemon Balm and Lemon Verbena; and I freeze some basil for winter use; everything else is around even in winter.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2009 at 10:59PM
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I freeze cilantro also. In the middle of winter frozen is better than none. I chop it, put it in a freezer bag and flatten it, toss in the freezer and break off what I need.
I usually make pesto with basil and freeze that. Some people blend basil with just oil and freeze it in flat cakes like Daisy does. I also try to keep a basil plant going through winter under a lamp.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2009 at 10:59PM
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I've had good luck with freezing whole basil leaves by laying them out on a piece of foil,folding the foil as flat as I could to get rid of air, then storing it in a freezer bag.The leaves come out green and smell fresh.They have enough flavor to place on a pizza.
Another method I use to store basil for pesto is to chop it in the processor, add garlic and oil(enough to cover it) and store it in a freezer container.Don't add the nuts or cheese or it will taste strange.Then thaw it , add it to the toasted pine nuts,grate in the cheese and its good to go.
I think the flavor is flat when its frozen in ice cubes.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2009 at 1:53AM
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Oregano and thyme I dry by hanging bunches out of direct sunlight and in good air circulation. Basil can be dried the same way, but I prefer to make a slurry of chopped basil leaves and oil, and freeze in ice cube trays. Parsley and chives I freeze in water with about a teaspoon of lemon juice to a half-cup of water. Just enough water-to-herb mix to keep the herbs together.
Here in Texas we just lose the annuals (basil, dill, cilantro) and have the perennial herbs year-round. However, one must do something with the excess!

    Bookmark   May 29, 2009 at 11:08AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

The faster a leaf herb is dried the more flavor it retains. Allowing thyme and oregano to dry by natural means (sun) will not give as much flavor to the dried product as would one that is done in a dehydrator. I tried drying dill weed outdoors, and it was a pale green color with little flavor. I used a dehydtrator and that gave me bright green, strong smelling and tasting dill weed. After its dried I also pack it in canning jars and seal a canning lid on by vacuum. The process uses a Food Saver attachment and has given my 2 year old dill nearly the same flavor and color as freshly dried.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2009 at 1:06PM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

Make up some salsa - it uses cilantro, or other dishes that use a bunch of it. No matter how you slice it, cilantro is one of those you just need fresh, IMHO.

Oregano and thyme dry well and keep good flavor.

Chives, dries ok but you need to use a dehydrator. The flavor is ok dried.

Parsley, is best fresh but can be dried. You'll need a dehydrator for best results.


    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 2:31PM
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sunshinenc(z7 NC)

Thank you to everyone for all the great ideas! I am definitely going to try freezing some, but I really liked the idea with the basil, about freezing with a little oil, and the other suggestion of freezing whole leaves in aluminum foil! I think I will just experiment a couple different ways and learn from that for next year. Thanks again for all the great advice. Regina

    Bookmark   June 2, 2009 at 9:55PM
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You can vacuum freez, if air is a problem.
Put your veggies in a ziplock bag.
Close the zip except about 2 inches open.
With your mouth suck the air out,
fasten the rest of zip quickly.
Voilla! Vaccum packed!
This is done easily with bags because the atmospheric pressure is on your side. You CANNOT do this with a glass jar or any ridgid container.

I had freezed some cilantro when they started bolting.
After reading this thread I checked it. The flavor and aroma is there but it has gotten darker as a result of frost/freez bite. I am sure basil will be the same way.
Right now, I am drying some thyme, sage and oregano in a dark room. They dry fast because their moisture content is very low when fresh.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2009 at 2:17AM
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sunshinenc(z7 NC)

Thanks cyrus gardner, I don't mind the color really, as long as it still has flavor, so I will try some definitely.. I only plan on adding it to sauces, etc when I use it later anyway.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2009 at 12:16PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Quickly dried in a dehydrator and then packed in home canning jars. Use the Food Saver canning jar attachment and place a lid between the top of the jar and the attachment. Connect the vacuum line from the FS device, and pull a vacuum. After a couple of minutes, pull the vacuum line from the top of the adapter and it will force the canning lid to get pulled onto the jar, sealing it. You now have vacuum packed herbs and they keep a long time, except cilantro. I have a lOT of dill weeed that is now 2 years old and its still as viable and fresh smelling and tasting as if it was done last week. Still a nice bright green color too. Check the HARVEST forum for further info on the FS jar adapters, as they have both regular and wide mouth jar types. When I need some, I just remove the lid and take what I need, then reseal it under vacuum again. I do this with gratd cheese to, and it keeps many months in the fridge without any mold issues. There, I use the plastic vacuum canisters that Food Saver sells.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2009 at 6:41PM
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