Freezing and drying herbs
The growing season here is over in the Okanagan and it’s time to preserve some of the summer herbs growing in our rooftop garden.
Some herbs are best dried and kept in sealed jars, others of the leafy variety, like basil and sorrel, are best blended with olive oil and frozen in small quantities to be added to soups, dressing and other foods. I also mix some of the herbs together in one jar, in the style of herb de provence.
If I start earlier in the fall I cut branches of herbs (bay leaf, thyme, rosemary, oregano), tie them with a kitchen twine and hang upside down from a wooden screen we have standing in dining room. Once they dry I pack or crumble them into small glass jars, secure the lid and keep them in the pantry. If I am doing it at the last minute, as it happened this year, I pull the leaves off the branches and let them air dry on paper or plates on the counter. When dry, they go in a jar and sealed.
Basil and sorrel get a different treatment. I don’t make a full pesto out of them but rather blend the leaves with sufficient amount of olive oil to make a paste, then freeze them in small quantities in ice cube trays or something similar. Once they are frozen I remove them from the trays, place in a freezer bag and keep in the freezer. When you need an extra layer of flavour in your food, be it a soup, stew, rice dish, pasta or a dressing, pull out a cube of frozen herb and add to the food at the end of the cooking to keep the freshness.
Flat leaf parsley, something I use most often, I make into pesto and freeze in jars. I always have one jar in the fridge and it is a very useful item. See the recipe here.
There are other methods to freeze herbs as well: you can fill the ice cube trays with the chopped herbs and drizzle the oil on top, or drizzle it with water instead.
I hear that sage leaves freeze well whole. I haven’t done it yet but will try a small bag of frozen sage leaves this year.