How to Make Herb Ice Cubes

Monday, April 11, 2016

Herb Ice Cubes

There’s nothing better than herbs fresh picked from the garden and used in a favorite recipe.

I have herbs inter planted with my flower beds and some in the garden to help ward off bugs. And, then there’s my livestock water trough planter that sits on my patio. That one is handy to the kitchen door and is my “go to” herb garden when I get ready to fix a meal.

The warmer months are prime herb growing season, but what is a cook to do during the dark, cold days of winter? How do you get that “just picked” flavor in the dead of winter?

First off…you start long before the cold weather begins. You start with your seed selection and planting of the herb garden, taking into consideration what herbs you use the most and which ones are well suited to being preserved.

There are several ways to preserve herbs; there’s air drying, dehydrating, making herbed vinegars, oils, butter, salt, pesto’s and even herbed sugar, given the right kind of herb.

But, the one I like best for preserving that “just out of the garden” flavor is freezing, herb ice cubes as we call them. They are easy, fast and bring life to ever dish we make all winter long.

Follow these easy steps and you’ll be enjoying the taste of fresh herbs no matter what the weather is outside.

STEP ONE:  Choose full bodied, blemish free herbs. Pick herbs just before or at the beginning of their flowering cycle. This is the time when the herb oils are at their peak.

STEP TWO:  Wash herbs gently and pat dry, or let air dry.

STEP THREE:  This is where you have a few choices. You can either freeze herbs in water or oil. Also, decide what size herb cubes you want; regular ice cube tray size or larger cubes using a muffin tin. The ice cube tray will give you about 2-tablespoons of herbs per cube, while the muffin tin will give you about 1/3-cup. (I like the muffin tin size because it gives me enough herbs for several dishes, when defrosted).

STEP FOUR:  Mince your herb, either by hand or in a food processor. Be sure to keep the herbs separate if you’re freezing more than one at a time.

STEP FIVE:   Pack minced herb into an ice cube tray, about 3/4 full. (I find it easier to have one ice cube tray for each herb, or use each side of the try for one herb. That way they don’t get mixed up).

STEP SIX:  Fill each cube, or muffin tin, with boiling water. This will blanch the herbs, helping them to retain their fresh flavor and natural color. OR, you can fill each cube with neutral oil, like vegetable or canola.

STEP SEVEN:  Pop the trays, or tins, into the freezer, making sure they are level, so they don’t spill. Once they are frozen solid take cubes out of the tray, or tin, and store in freezer bags or freezer containers.

To use herb ice cubes, take what you need out of the freezer and drop them into your pot. It’s that simple!

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