Photo courtesy of suavehouse113 at Flickr.com.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a burgeoning herb garden, you may end up with too many herbs to use yourself. One alternative to giving them away is to freeze them. Some herbs can be placed inside plastic bags en masse and tossed in the freezer, but for others, there’s a simple and effective way to keep them fresh longer: cube ‘em. That is, freeze them right in your ice trays.
This process works best with herbs like borage, basil, parsley, and chives. Collect young shoots, keeping them out of direct sunlight to help them maintain their freshness, and use a sharp knife to cut them into ice cube-sized lengths. Place small bunches of herbs in the tray compartments, fill the trays carefully with water, and put the trays in your freezer. The herbs will freeze solid in the ice cubes within a few hours.
Once they’re ready, pop the ice cubes out of the trays, pour them into plastic freezer bags and put them back into the freezer. Do this quickly; don’t give the cubes any time to melt, or the melted ice will refreeze, fusing the cubes together on their bags and making them harder to deal with later.
When it comes time to use your frozen herbs, just remove a cube from the freezer and let it thaw in a container in the refrigerator. If you’d like to try herbs in your tea, you don’t even have to melt the cube first — just toss it right in! Most of us prefer mint, but lemon balm and lavender are also fine choices.
As for the cube trays themselves, you can immediately reuse them if you’ve got more herbs to freeze. If you plan to use them only for ice, however, it’s a good idea to clean them thoroughly before reuse.