Preserving herbs by freezing them in olive oil has been around for ages yet, surprisingly not enough of us know about it. This method is especially great during the winter months for enjoying fresh herbs in your favourite soups, stews and potato dishes! These often call for oil to start so a cube of frozen herb oil is a great base for such meals. Fry onions and garlic in this herb-infused oil and the taste of the herbs will spread throughout your whole dish.
Preserving herbs in olive oil reduces some of the browning and freezer burn that herbs can get in the freezer. Basically what you need to do is gather your favourite fresh herbs, rip them up, place in an ice cube tray, cover them in olive oil and freeze overnight and voilà! You now have a delicious herb-infused olive oil at the ready for any occasion!
This method works best for hard herbs like rosemary, sage, thyme and oregano because they would most likely be cooked when added to a dish anyway. In contrast, the flavour of soft herbs like basil, mint, dill and lemon verbena is changed in the freezer and they are most enjoyed when they are as fresh as possible.
Select your favourite herbs. Try a combination or rosemary, sage, oregano and thyme to have a variety of herbs on hand later on. You can chop them finely or rip them into pieces.
Pack the wells of an ice cube tray about 2/3 full of herbs.
Pour oil over the herbs.
Cover lightly with plastic wrap and freeze overnight.
Remove the frozen cubes and store in freezer containers or small bags. Don't forget to label each container or bag with the type of herb (and oil) inside!
This method can also be used for so much more than pan-frying. Try preserving your herbs in melted butter instead of oil and use that as your dishes’ base or, once frozen, leave a cube to thaw for a bit and it can then be enjoyed as herb butter spread. For soup, freeze large quantities (like a Tupperware container full) of your favourite broth with chopped herbs. To prepare herb tea in advance, freeze the herbs in water.
Try to freeze a combination of different herbs so you have a variety to chose from when the time comes. You can make these little cubes in bulk and separate your different herb mixtures in labeled Ziploc bags for future use. Think about what you like to cook and that will dictate how much of each type of infused oil you will want to make. This is a great cost efficient way to enjoy the taste of fresh herbs year-round and to make sure there is always a flavourful base for your cooking available in the kitchen.
Durand, Faith. “Freeze & Preserve Fresh Herbs in Olive Oil”. Kitchn, http://www.thekitchn.com/freeze-herbs-in-olive-oil-173648
Medina, Michaela. “Preserving the Harvest: Fresh-Frozen Herbs in Oil, Butter, Broth or Water”. The Gardener’s Eden, http://www.thegardenerseden.com/?p=13221