I love my herb garden and being able to snip fresh herbs whenever I need them. I miss them in the winter. One way that I preserve some of my summer herbs for use throughout the rest of the year is to freeze them in olive oil in ice cube trays making what I call “herb cubes”.
There is no recipe as such for these herb cubes. I simply go out to my herb garden and snip bunches of whatever herbs I have – basil, oregano, dill, parsley, chives, tarragon, sage, rosemary, and so forth.
You can, of course, make the cubes with all one kind of herb or any combination you like. Make sure you strip the leaves from any stems that are hard, like thyme and rosemary, for example.
All I do is bunch together the herbs on a cutting board and chop them relatively finely.
I line the ice cube trays with plastic wrap for two reasons. First, I don’t want my trays left smelling like herbs – herb-flavored ice cubes don’t work in every beverage! Second, it’s easy to pull the ends of the wrap up and lift the cubes out of the tray. For these, I’m using a slightly deeper-than-normal ice cube tray because I want the cube capacity to be a good tablespoon size.
To make the cubes, simply push the plastic wrap down into the cube cavities and start stuffing the individual cubes with chopped herbs.
Pour olive oil into each cube, filling to just below the top level of each cube.
Let the herb cubes sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes to allow the olive oil to settle and distribute itself among the herbs. Top up the oil in each cube if it has sunk down and then place the trays in the freezer for 24 hours.
Remove the frozen herb cubes from the trays by lifting out the plastic wrap liner, peeling off the herb cubes. Then, transfer the cubes to an airtight freezer container, separating each cube with a small piece of wax paper so they don’t freeze together, making them difficult to separate.
I use these herb cubes for stir fries and for sautéing aromatics for soups and casseroles — each cube provides the sautéing oil for the garlic, onions, and vegetables and the herbs provide wonderful seasoning. Simply toss the cube into a saucepan, frypan, or wok and melt it over medium heat and you are good to go!
So, if you have excess herbs in the garden, this is an easy way to carry them over for winter use.