How to Keep Summer Herbs on Hand All Winter Long
If you buy herbs and need only a small amount for your recipe, or find yourself with an unexpected surplus of herbs you’ve grown at home, you can easily preserve them for later use. While some herbs like rosemary dry well, tender herbs such as basil, parsley, dill, chervil, chives, and cilantro are best preserved by freezing them in oil and butter. Use your Vitamix to create a store of fresh-frozen herbs that you can have on hand for fancy dishes or quick and easy meals like pastas, sauces, or soups that will benefit from their boost. Homemade marinades and dressings are also good candidates for oil-preserved herbs.
Wash herbs and gently pat them dry so as not to release too much of their oils. Trim off stems and discard bruised leaves. Blend herbs and olive oil in your Vitamix blender, scraping the sides as necessary to form a thick paste. Use about 2 cups of herbs to every 1/3 cup of oil, or 2 to 4 tablespoons of herbs to about ½ cup of unsalted butter. For variety, try adding chopped garlic or even the zest of citrus fruits.
Pour herb oil or herb butter into quart-size freezer bags and lay the bags flat to freeze. Simply cut off a frozen chunk of the herbs as needed. As an alternative, you can use a little more oil and freeze the herb concoction in ice cube trays until frozen, then pop the individual cubes into a freezer bag for later use.
Use your preserved herbs to create homemade flavored butters
, or in the following recipes:
Parmesan Balsamic Vinaigrette
Equally tasty as a salad dressing or marinade for chicken.
Fresh Tomato Sauce
The classic recipe can be blended to a smooth purée or left thick and hearty.
Basil Walnut Pesto
Using herbs preserved in oil, you can adapt this recipe for use year round.