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How to freeze your fresh basil leaves and other herbs

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It's that time of year again - I am freezing my herbs. I think our Minnesota-nice weather is done, at least as far as the plants are concerned. I love my fresh herbs for soups, hot pasta sauces, roasting and holiday cooking.

Here is what I do each year - in my experience, I have successfully frozen basil, thyme and rosemary. I am sure there are others but these three keep in my freezer until next year.

Picking and Freezing Technique

Get ziploc bags. My recommendation is to use many small size freezer bags. (Why? Then you're only opening one at a time)

Be ready to grab your herbs quickly - do one bag at a time in a speedy fashion - do it with someone else

Gently pick your herbs and put enough in the bag to have about two or three flat layers in the bag

Do not chop the basil and keep the thyme/rosemary on their stalks

Squeeze out air and freeze immediately

You may wish to double cover the group of bags in another plastic bags. Just have one of the bags more exposed for a quick grab.

Using Your Frozen Herbs

Be fast! When you take your bag of frozen herbs out of the freezer, you must take only what you need fast, squeeze excess air out, zip it up and put it in the freezer immediately!

Never leave the bag sitting out for even a little bit - the herbs thaw quickly and will revert to a soggy state

The herbs, especially the basil, will be like little crispy chips when you first take them out - crumble them immediately into your recipes

And that reminds me - do not pull them out until you are immediately ready to use them

I so very much enjoy the smell of rosemary, thyme and basil in my fall and winter cooking. People are often surprised to taste their flavors, since many of us revert to dried herbs in cooler weather. Many chefs agree that basil is really only effective as a fresh herb. This frozen method is great except for something like cold appetizers that depend on a crisp-leaf texture of the basil.

Rosemary is almost garden-fresh when frozen correctly. Thyme, which I use mostly in soups and roasting, retains its full peppery flavor, even after months of being frozen.

I hope this inspires you to grab the herbs out of your garden or get them fresh from the store and save some for freezing for your convenience! Hint: I have also used Tupperware to contain the herbs - you can label the side facing you for quick reference.

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