Sunday 25 January 2015

Freezing Herbs and Other Uses For Ice Cube Trays

Freezing fresh herbs in olive oil

Sainsbury's are currently promoting and encouraging people to get the most out of their freezer and have assembled some great ideas, inspiration and practical tips for simple freezer solutions as well as some recipes to help you get the most out of your freezer.  All this information is over at Sainsbury's Love Your Freezer Hub. Here there is a section called "8 ingenious uses for an ice cube tray" and I'd like to add another idea to this section ... freezing herbs in an ice cube tray.

Herbs in extra virgin olive oil packed into ice cube tray

Do you grow your own herbs and if you do, do you manage to make the most out of your crop? How many times have you purchased fresh herbs only to find that you don't use them all and end up throwing it in the bin? Have you tried drying herbs? I have but not successfully! So one way I like to preserve my left over fresh herbs is by freezing them chopped up in extra virgin olive oil. I can pop a few cubes out the night before if I want to make a salad dressing or use them straight from the freezer in curries, casseroles, stews and soups. I originally saw this idea on Facebook a few years ago and was so impressed with the method, it's so simple.

Fresh herbs in extra virgin olive oil

During a visit to Canada a couple of years ago I bought a couple of Fresh Baby So Easy Storage Trays with lids which are BPA-Free, Phthalate-Free and Food Safe. At that time I couldn't find any trays with lids in the UK but I've just noticed that these are now available on Amazon and I highly recommend them. Each tray has 12 x 30 ml servings and they stack on top of each other easily. The instructions to make the frozen herb cubes are extremely simple. I used some left over parsley, mint and basil in these pictures. I pack the individual compartments with chopped herbs which I'm quite generous with in recipes such as basil, parsley, mint and thyme but I may freeze only a couple of small sprigs of rosemary or thyme in each one.

Frozen fresh herbs

Frozen Herbs in Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Ice cube trays preferably with lids

  • Discard any brown or damaged leaves.
  • Wash the herbs and dry them with a towel or spin in a salad spinner.
  • Chop the herbs finely or into small sprigs
  • Pack the chopped herbs into the ice cube trays
  • Pour the olive oil over the herbs
  • Place a lid over the tray or cover in cling film
  • Place in the freezer until frozen
  • Pack into freezer bags (or leave in the trays if they have lids)
  • Defrost for a couple of hours or overnight, use straight from the freezer or thaw in a dish over a pan of hot water

Freeze Fresh Herbs in extra virgin olive oil

Some other ideas of foods to freeze in ice cube trays are :

  • Left over gravy
  • Home made cookie mixture
  • Home made pesto
  • Fruit juice nearing it's best before date
  • Freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
  • Home made ice cream - single sized portions for desserts or drinks
  • Puréed green vegetables like spinach or kale to add to smoothies
  • Left over tomato sauce - ideal as a pizza topping
  • Left over soup
  • Apple or cranberry sauce
  • Puréed vegetables for sauces and soup toppers
  • Unused tinned chopped tomatoes or passata
  • Left over smoothie drinks
  • Left over yogurt 

Frozen Fresh Herbs in ice cube tray