Freeze Drying Herbs:
- The simplest way that I know to freeze dry herbs is to put the whole plant in a brown paper bag and leave it undisturbed in the freezer. Don’t squeeze the bags together and/or pile anything else on top.
- Once the herbs are dried, crumble the leaves. Store in a covered container in a cool dry cupboard.
- I like to vacuum seal herbs in small packets as I find they will keep for years that way.
- When herbs are freeze dried, they retain much more of their color.
Herbs Suited to Freeze Drying:
- Any type of Basil
- Lemon Balm
- Garlic Greens ( makes a nice substitute for chives in recipes
- German Chamomile
Freezing Herbs in Oil
Any type of pesto freezes really well. I do find that it keeps better flavour if the parmesan is not mixed in before freezing as the cheese loses some of its tang over time in the freezer.
As a sidebar note to that … where pinenuts have really climbed in price over the past couple of years, I have been experimenting with substituting other nuts. So far, cashews seem to be about the best;
I use small dollar store containers to freeze my pesto for convenient storage. It only takes putting pesto in freezer bags once to decide that.
If you were only making up a small batch, ice cube trays could be used to freeze the processed herb into single use sizes.
Frozen pesto keeps well all winter without losing flavour.
Dill and cilantro can be processed using any pesto recipe, without the garlic. Unless you use it everyday, one large batch will suffice for the winter.
Stronger tasting herbs, such as sage, take on a bitter taste when frozen in oil.
Any of your favourite scented herbs can be pureed with the oil of your choice and frozen for midwinter projects.
I never freeze medicinal herbs in oil. Maybe it can be done, but I have never found any sources to verify the effectiveness after being processed like this.
How to Freeze Vegetables
Pick the ripe, tender vegetables. Leave the almost ripe ones for the next picking.
Wash and clean the vegetable in mild soapy water. I just use any gentle dish soap. Why? More people get e-coli from vegetables and fruit than from meat.
Trim the vegetables (saving the scraps of course for your composter)
Cut or break into desired sizes. Although I like the look of whole green and yellow beans, I cut them into inch long lengths because it takes less room in the freezer. Thats the same reason i break the broccoli and cauliflower into smaller florets.
Place a large pan of lightly salted water on stove to boil. When water comes to a full boil, drop a collander of vegetables in. Stir to make sure all vegetables are exposed. Run a sink of cold water. Add ice to the sink if you have it.
In most cases, you would only leave the vegetables in for less than two minutes. I always pull them out as soon as the color starts to bloom, or get more vibrant.
Larger vegetables, like whole tomatoes, can take longer. I always leave tomatoes in until the skin pulls away easily.
Remove from heat and dip in cold water until chilled. Place empty colander in other side of the sink.
When vegetables are cold, drain in colander for five minutes. Pack in freezer bags.
Although there are fancy systems out there, I just use a straw when i am packaging to pull out any excess air because I want to work quickly to minimize nutritional loss.
Place bags of vegetables on baking trays and place in freezer.
After the vegetables are frozen, remove the baking trays and pack in neat order.
When there is a bountiful tomato harvest, it is possible to conserve freezer space by making tomato puree instead of simply freezing the whole tomatoes.