The Easiest, Best Way to Keep Soft Herbs Fresh for Months
There are a lot of reasons for wanting to make sure your herbs last a long time. Maybe you know that your grocery store won't have decent parsley in the winter. Maybe you're taking a last-minute trip and don't want to throw away your perfect batch of basil. Or perhaps you're simply like me, and buy a dozen different herbs at the farmer's market, only to remember that you can't make it through all of them before they go bad.
Either way, fear not: whatever herb you have too much of, you can easily save it for later with this method, which helps preserve all of the flavor and makes dispensing a variety of amounts easy, too.
Hard herbs—such as rosemary and thyme—are incredibly easy to save. All you need to do is dry them out, which you can do in the sun. Make sure that you add dried hard herbs early on in dishes, as they'll take a while to rehydrate and give off their flavor. These woodier herbs benefit from drying because, rather than shriveling up, they become stronger in flavor, like dried fruit.
Soft herbs—such as cilantro, basil, and parsley—require a little more work to preserve. That said, they're still incredibly easy to make last, and doing so requires only a ziplock bag and a little oil.
In most cases, a quart-sized bag will do, although it you have a ton of herbs, you could go up to a gallon. As for oils, something neutral-flavored and inexpensive, like canola oil, is ideal.
Start by blanching your herbs, which brings out a lot of flavor (you'll lose a little flavor in the freezer, so it's important to start with the maximum amount). To blanch, simply add your herbs to boiling water, cook for 30 seconds, and then dunk in ice water.
After blanching your herbs, dry them, chop them, and put them in a bowl. Add a little bit of neutral oil to the bowl—just enough to moisten them, but not so much they're swimming in oil. This will help preserve the flavor of the herbs even when they're frozen.
Transfer your herbs to your ziplock bag and flatten them in a thin layer, so that you have a dense sheet of herbs and oil. Make sure there's no extra air in the bag, seal it, and place it in the freezer on top of a plate so that it stays flat.
Then whenever you need the herbs, just pull out the sheet, and cut off a square of herby goodness. They'll taste nearly as good as fresh, and they'll last for months!