A garden full of fresh herbs is useful for a cook to have on hand. Having all those fresh flavours on hand is ideal for livening up any dish. But when it starts to get colder, it can be a little disappointing to return to dried herbs for the remainder of the year. Many herbs can be preserved very successfully in your own freezer, without having to use a dehydrator. Some green herbs even seem to prefer this method of preservation, as the low temperatures inhibit the oxidisation of oils, retaining more of the original flavour.
Wash a handful of fresh bay leaves and dry them thoroughly. Keep the overall quantity small to help them freeze as quickly as possible. Remove any that show any signs of blackening.
Ensure that the leaves are fully dry, leaving them in sunlight for an hour or so can help. Any longer than this and you risk starting to dry the leaves. Place them in a freezer bag or plastic container and seal firmly.
Place the bag or tub in the deepest part of the freezer to bring down temperature quickly. this will help to preserve the fresh flavour of the bay leaves. They can now be stored in the freezer for up to about 3 months without losing any of their flavour.
Take a leaf from the container when you are ready to use one and drop it straight into a dish as it is cooking. The heat will defrost the wafer-thin leaf almost instantly and release its flavour.
Try chopping and blending different herbs with olive oil, then decanting the mixture into ice cube trays. The resulting cubes can be dropped into dishes as they cook.
Tips and warnings
- Try chopping and blending different herbs with olive oil, then decanting the mixture into ice cube trays. The resulting cubes can be dropped into dishes as they cook.