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I often use herbs in daily cooking, e.g. parsley, dill, basil etc. The problem is, I like to eat fresh homemade food yet cleaning and cutting herbs takes a good bit of time for me, I already I spend way too much time cooking (my life is packed with reponsibilities) and I need to reduce that time.

Let's say a bunch of parsley lasts me four meals. That means, I will clean a quarter of a bunch every time, meaning pluck the leaves off the stems (I remove stems), clean them and chop them. The process takes 10 min easily. It would be faster if I cleaned the whole bunch all at once and froze it or I could even hire a maid to come in and do herb cleaning and other menial kitchen works a few hours a month.

However, I don't want to compromise freshness. Is there a way to freeze ready-to-cook herbs yet not lose much freshness?

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Duplicate of cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/139/… –  Kristina Lopez Feb 1 '13 at 18:30
    
Why does it take 10 minutes to chop parsley? –  Brendan Feb 1 '13 at 18:49
    
plucking leaves is tedious. i throw the stems away –  amphibient Feb 1 '13 at 19:08
    
why are you throwing the stems away? –  sarge_smith Feb 2 '13 at 19:37
    
@foampile Don't pluck the leaves off before chopping. Just keep it in a bunch and start chopping from the end with all the leaves. Once you're halfway down you will be getting a decent amount of stem, but it has the same flavor, and you're chopping it, so it's not a big deal unless you're being picky/meticulous. –  Jefromi Feb 14 '13 at 3:17
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2 Answers

I am not aware of any method of freezing herbs that will maintain their freshness, in the general case, especially for delicate herbs such as basil.

The best method I know of to freeze herbs, which I personally would not do and have never tried, is to mince or puree the herbs, then freeze them with water. You might do the freezing in an ice cube tray to have small quantities available. The water is to help prevent the volatile flavors from evaporating, which will happen slowly even at freezer temperatures. Of course, this is still very different than fresh.

I will try to answer the alternate question which is probably what you really want to know: what is the best way to hold fresh herbs to maintain their quality?

The best way to hold fresh herbs is to treat them like a bouquet of flowers. Trim the bottom of the stem ends, so there is a fresh, clean cut. Then put them in a small drinking glass, measuring cup, or other container with water, much like you would put flowers in a vase. The entire thing can then be put in the refrigerator (florist storage rooms are refrigerated, too!). With this technique, you will often be able to get a week or more. (BTW, it also works wonders with celery, which is essentially a giant big herb.)

Probably the second best way is to layer the herbs in a single layer in paper towels, then roll or fold that up so you can put it in a zip lock bag that is not completely sealed (you don't want the moisture from their respiration--herbs are still alive on the stem--to be stuck inside). This too would go into the fridge. You should get at least a few days with this method.

With either method, you can wash the herbs before storage, but with the paper towel method, they should be thoroughly dried after being washed.

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For herbs that you will be adding to a soup or stew, chopping them coarsely in a food processor with water and freezing the resulting mixture will work very well. In fact, herbs picked straight from the garden in summer and processed as I described often will yield a better flavor than the sometime anemic herbs available "fresh" in the winter in over-priced packages.

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