More Herb Preservation

I had a day off and a bit of overgrown herbs to tackle. I harvested these mid-September in hopes that they would have one more growth spurt before a frost. Unfortunately it doesn't look like this growth spurt is going to happen. That first chilly weekend in October must've stunted their growth. Anyway I came in from the herb garden with a large handful each of basil, pesto, rosemary, and thyme. I had harvested the oregano a day or two earlier and Patrick worked on that over the weekend; I'll still include that method below. 

This post is an addendum to the previous herb preservation post: Freezing Extra Basil & Oregano. I tried a few other methods from that post here. As I mentioned in that post, basil and oregano are "soft" herbs. The rosemary and thyme are "hard" herbs and don't need to be packed in oil or a broth to freeze. Before you begin any method, make sure to wash and dry the herbs really well. I rinsed them and let them set in water for about 10 minutes. Then removed the herbs to a kitchen towel and patted dry. Since I had the day off and plenty of time, I would let them air dry an hour or so before I started working with them.

Again I didn't find a true recipe to follow. Google produces many, many results on freezing / preserving herbs. I put a few together and ended up with the following:

Herb Handfuls [from l to r]: Basil, Chives, Rosemary, and Thyme
For the Basil
Oops... This actually didn't make it to the freezer. The plan was to make a pesto and freeze that. Well the pesto looked so darn good we ate it for supper! If I had frozen it I was going to leave the Parmesan out in the freezing step and add that into the dish when we were using the pesto. We've still got our frozen basil chips though from the first freeze experiment.

For the Chives
I prepared a garlic chive butter and then froze it in little tablespoon portions. For the butter, let it warm to room temperature. Then mix in chopped chives and garlic paste (or very well minced garlic). Once the butter is well incorporated with the chives and garlic plop a tablespoon onto plastic wrap. I dotted the plastic wrap with the butter (leaving a few inches around each plop) and then used scissors to cut squares to wrap up the butter. Then I used parchment paper to wrap each serving of butter again. With all those chives I used two sticks of butter! I'm predicting these with be used a lot with potatoes this winter.

For the Rosemary and the Thyme
I used the same method for these two herbs. Since they are very hardy all I basically had to do was freeze them. They don't need anything to protect them. I placed the rosemary and thyme each in individual gallon-sized ziploc bags (with the stems). Then after a week, or whenever you remember next, take them out of the bags and remove all the leaves from the stems. Since they are frozen this will be very easy. Then I chopped the leaves so they would be ready for sprinkling in a recipe and placed them in small plastic containers. 

Here's the rosemary in the final stage. The stems have been stripped and the leaves have been chopped. Now it will stay in the freezer in this little container until we need rosemary.

Since these herbs are so hardy we'll try our luck at keeping them alive through the winter allowing us to still have access to fresh herbs. But if not then we'll have them in the freezer. A lot of the websites mentioned freezing this way would preserve much more flavor than drying.

For the Oregano
The oregano was our biggest herb producer. We may have had more basil but we had four basil plants and only one oregano! I'm not even sure what we did to make the oregano produce like it did. With a very large handful of oregano, Patrick removed the stems and chopped the herb. Then he put all the chopped oregano into an ice cube tray and covered them with chicken stock. After this was frozen they were removed and placed in a ziploc bag.

Can't wait to see which method works best in cooking!
Have you tried any herb preserving? Let us know!

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