How to Store and Freeze Fresh Herbs

If fresh herbs die in your fridge on a regular basis (read: every week), I'm here for you. Since recipes rarely require a full bunch of herbs, you'll usually have extra. And keep that extra from going to waste (because wasted food = wasted money), I rounded up my favorite, tried-and-true ways to keep herbs fresh in the fridge and freezer.

Refrigerator: Short Term Storage

Cilantro and Parsley

This is pretty much my favorite kitchen tip of all time. Cilantro and parsley can stay fresh for over a week or longer (!) when stored this way:

  • Trim the stems and make sure the leaves are dry (wash right before using instead of ahead of time).
  • Place bunch of cilantro or parsley in a glass or jar of water.
  • Cover with a loose plastic bag (see photo above).
  • Store in the fridge, changing the water every several days. #winning
     

Basil

Since basil is sensitive to cold (and nobody has time for blackened basil leaves), it's best to store basil at room temperature. Trim the stems and place in a glass or jar of water on the counter. Cover with a loose plastic bag and leave on the counter out of direct sunlight (and out of sight if plastic bag decor isn't your aesthetic). Change the water every day or two.
 

Rosemary, Thyme, Sage, Oregano, Mint

Harder herbs, like rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano, and mint, don't need to be stored in water. Dampen a paper towel and wrap the herb bundle with the paper towel. Store in a sealable Ziploc bag in the fridge. They should stay fresh for 2-3 weeks.

Freezer: Long Term Storage

Though frozen herbs can't be used exactly as fresh herbs are, frozen herbs work well in dressings, sauces, soups, and stews. And frozen harder herbs, like rosemary thyme, sage, and oregano, can be used on allllll the roasted things (think: root veggies and chicken). My favorite method (by far) is to freeze herbs in olive oil or unsalted butter, using a covered ice cube tray to store in easily usable portions.


1 cube = approximately 1 tablespoon of herby oil


Cilantro and Parsley

To keep the full flavor (and pretty color) of soft herbs, like cilantro and parsley, blanch before freezing in oil. Here's how:

  1. Blanch the herbs. Bring a large pot of water to boil and have a bowl of ice water ready to go nearby.
  2. Dip the bunch of cilantro or parsley into the boiling water quickly just until it wilts, 1-2 seconds (yes, that's seconds).
  3. Immediately transfer the blanched herbs to the ice water.
  4. Remove from the ice water and pat dry.
  5. Add the whole bunch (tender stems included) to a blender or food processor and purée, adding enough olive oil or melted, unsalted butter to make a smooth, pourable paste.
  6. Fill your ice cube tray with the herby oil (or butter) mixture.
  7. Cover with the ice cube tray cover or plastic wrap and freeze overnight.
  8. Once frozen, remove frozen cubes and store in sealed, airtight containers or Ziploc bags in the freezer. Make sure to label each container so you know what's what.
     

Basil

For basil, follow the same method as outlined above for cilantro or parsley. Or, better yet, make this favorite dairy-free pesto and freeze in ice cube trays for later use. Thaw for a quick and easy sauce for weeknight pasta or bowls. Or even turn into a pesto dressing (like this bánh mì one).

Mint

Though you can blanch and freeze mint in oil, I have three words for you: mojito ice cubes. In a bowl, mix together chopped mint leaves, lime zest, and freshly squeezed lime. Pour mixture into an ice cube tray and freeze. Once frozen, serve in cocktail glasses with simple syrup (or stevia), rum and sparkling water (you're welcome).
 

Rosemary, Thyme, Sage, Oregano

Hard herbs, like rosemary, thyme, sage, and oregano, don't need to be blanched before freezing in oil. Follow these simple steps to have these herbs on hand for all your veggie-roasting needs:

  1. Remove the leaves from the stems and keep whole or finely chop (you choose!).
  2. Put the herb leaves (whole or chopped) into the ice cube tray wells; fill each well about 2/3rds of the way.
  3. Pour olive oil or melted, unsalted butter over the herbs until the well is full.
  4. Cover with the ice cube tray cover or plastic wrap and freeze overnight.
  5. Once frozen, remove frozen cubes and store in sealed, airtight containers or Ziploc bags in the freezer. Make sure to label each container so you know what's what.

Herby Recipes

Extra parsley? Make these Moroccan harissa chicken bowls. Extra mint? These kombucha margaritas are calling your name. Extra cilantro? One word: tacos

Ally MilliganComment