Preserving Herbs for Use in Recipes

Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9bNovember 13, 2008

Our public library has a chef's series, and I went to it yesterday. I have always wondered how to keep my bountiful basil, rosemary, chives, parsley, thyme, etc fresh without having to dry them.

The chef said you can mix them all or do them one by one, but carefully separate the leaves from the stems (no stems)and for basil do a chiffonade, but the rest you can chop. Once you get them all chopped, put them in any amounts per herb you desire into a plastic see through container (like the ones deli parmesan cheese comes in), cover them with safflower oil. It must be safflower oil because it stays oily in the freezer and does not congeal like olive, coconut oil etc.

Put enough oil to just cover the herbs, and they will last weeks in the fridge, and a very long time in the freezer. He says a little gray may develop on top (it's not mold), but just spoon that off, and you will be good to go!! Fresh herbs for any recipe all the time!! This method allows us to harvest our herbs and get the most out of them before they go to seed, etc.

The chef said that if you are mixing your herbs, don't put dill or tarragon in the mix. They are too strong and will influence the flavor of the whole mix. He suggested to do them separately.

I asked him if you could also use a zip lock. He poo poo'd that idea thinking that the zipper might not zip, but I know better! I'll probably use my favorite zip lock bags for this!

I hope this helps you stretch your herb harvest. It will certainly speed up cooking time. No more chopping! All done ahead, fresh and yummy!!

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If that 'little grey on top' isn't mould, then just what is it??

I'd much rather omit the oil and just freeze the chopped herbs! It's very easy to do! You don't have to chop everything by hand - a zap in the food processor is quite successful. Then freeze in flat 'pancakes' in a plastic container, separated by plastic wrap, label each 'pancake' and it's just a matter of breaking off suitably-sized bits as required.

You can make your own herb mixes in the same way, but frankly, I prefer to keep my herbs separately - that way I can ad lib, or just use one herb at a time.

Besides, I don't want oil in everything I make!

    Bookmark   November 13, 2008 at 5:45PM
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ltcollins1949(9a TX)

Many fresh herbs can be chopped and put into ice cube trays, totally covered with water, and then let them freeze. After that, put them into a zip lock bag in the freezer and pull them out whenever you need one. I would mark on the bag which herb is in the cube, and I would not mix the herbs because I like to be able to use individual herbs and not herb blends. Another way to preserve fresh herbs, is to just go ahead and chop them and put them into a freezer bag. It works for me.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2008 at 5:59PM
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ltcollins1949(9a TX)

I'm sorry to disagree with the chef, but storing herbs in oils can cause botulism poisoning. If you are going to store them in oil, make sure you refrigerate for a very short time or freeze.

You might want to check out a post about Flavored oils and vinegars.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2008 at 11:55AM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

Thanks for all your tips! None of us wants to be poisoned by herbs. I am curing my own olives for the first time (got them free at our local golf course), and discovered that the final brine is where you put herbs, lemon rind, garlic, and flavors. It was suggested that prior to adding these things to dip them in a solution of 1 tsp bleach to 1 quart water. This will KILL any bacteria. Rinse, spin dry, and then add to the olives. This makes sense to me. Probably before I chop anything to be oil preserved, I'll do the bleach method to kill any bad stuff lurking there, and of course sterilize the knife also!

    Bookmark   November 18, 2008 at 1:02PM
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