Preserving fresh herbs in olive oil

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These little guys are fresh herbs frozen in olive oil.

They’re the perfect way to preserve herbs, and can go from freezer right to frying pan. Sound like one of those handy housewife helpers from the 1950s to you? We thought so.

Preserve leftover fresh herbs


So, say you have a bunch of fresh herbs lying around that you’re not going to use right away.

And you also have one of these.

And some of this. (I like to use pure olive oil, but use the oil that you’ll cook with.)

Basically, you take your herbs, chop ’em up, and freeze them in an ice cube tray with olive oil (or melted butter, if you like). Brilliant, right?

An idea worth sharing

I can’t take credit for this idea. I shared a picture of these herb cubes over on our Facebook page from Michaela Medina over at Gardener’s Eden. It got a ton of action overnight.

Now that’s an idea worth sharing, right? People loved it. Sometimes it’s the simplest things.

I couldn’t resist trying it myself.

Uses for herbs preserved in olive oil

So why would you do this?

As my friend Delynn put it, “This is a good idea so that fresh herbs don’t go to waste and are prepackaged in an easy-to-use olive oil pat. Seems perfect for tossing into a skillet or even thawing out if you need it for a salad dressing or bread dipping.”

Yep, that about sums it up. (What would you use them for?)

I could see tucking one or two under the skin of a chicken before roasting. Or tossing one into a pot of soup. You get the idea.

This will definitely be a go-to herb saver at The Mouse House. I always wind up with extras and never like to waste food.

Olive oil gets weird when it’s cold

If you’ve ever stuck a bottle of olive oil in the fridge, you know what I’m talking about.

It thickens and turns a creamy, waxy white, kind of like soap. It actually looks almost exactly like Crisco or lard.

That’s just fine. You can toss it straight into a frying pan, or wait for it to reliquify once it returns to room temp.

Fresh Herb Cubes in Olive Oil

Fresh herbs, chopped into ~1-inch pieces
Olive oil
Ice cube tray

Grab your fresh herbs.

Give them a quick rinse under cold water. Dry them well. Pick off any brown bits that look suspect and discard.

Whack them into little pieces, about a half inch to an inch. Don’t make yourself nuts. You just want to be sure they fit in the cubbies in your ice cube tray. For these cubes, I used fresh thyme, chives, and rosemary. Use whatever you like.

If you’re using herbs with a woody stem (like rosemary and some thyme), pull the leaves off the stem and just use those.

Fill each cubby in your ice cube tray about half full with chopped herbs.

It’s just fine if they poke up a little.

I put a mixture of herbs for a few of the cubes.

Fill each cubby with olive oil. On a standard size tray, each cube will comfortably hold about 1.5 Tablespoons of olive oil.

Pop them into your freezer. Freeze overnight.

As they freeze, the oil will start to get opaque.

When they’re frozen, they’ll be completely opaque.

When they’re solid, pop them out, and store in a freezer-safe container or zip-top bag (to minimize freezer burn on the exposed herbs).

Use as needed. Enjoy!

What will you put in yours?

And what will you use them for? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie serves as an Associate Creative Director at PARTNERS+simons, a boutique ad agency in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.

36 COMMENTS

  1. Genius! I’ll have to try this. I also do something similar with roasted garlic – I roast off a bunch of heads of garlic at once, mash them, and then freeze them in my mini ice cube trays. Perfect for adding into so many dishes.

  2. Anyone who cooks and has an herb garden or pots will love this idea. Simple, tasty and thrifty! I love it and am going to try it ASAP. By the way olive oil that becomes solid and lardy from the cold regains its nice liquid consistency once it is warmed.

  3. I just discovered your wonderful website a few months ago while searching for ways to roast garlic. Since then, you’ve been reading my mind. The duck recipe, the lemon curd…and just this weekend, I was thinking about freezing some herbs from my garden and voila! you’ve posted brilliant way to do it! Your step-by-step instructions leave no question unanswered, and your photography is truly outstanding! Thank you so much for such an enjoyable and informative website.

  4. To freeze: Lightly oil an ice cube tray, making sure each compartment is coated with olive oil. Spoon the pesto into each compartment, filling to the top. After all of the pesto has been spooned into the cube compartments, top off each compartment with olive oil to seal. This will help prevent the basil from turning brown from oxidation during the freezing process. Lightly cover the entire tray with a strip of wax paper or cling wrap and place on a level freezer rack. After the pesto has frozen solid, approximately 4 hours or so, run a kitchen knife down the sides of the compartments, popping the pesto cube out. Place the cubes in a tightly sealed freezer bag and return to the freezer.

  5. Another great way to freeze herbs is to make an oil based paste. Chop your herbs. Mix about 1/3 cup of oil with 2 cups of herbs. Olive oil would work well with this. Then freeze in the ice cube trays. Use these cubes as you would the water based herb cubes.

  6. Tear or chop the herbs into small pieces or individual leaves, depending upon how you plan to use them at a later date. Next, load ice cube trays, egg cups or other freezer molds with the clipped herbs. You can separate individual herbs into molds or you can mix them in combinations you frequently use together. I make both individual herb cubes and various combinations. I started with olive-oil cubes for pan-frying this time. Once my compartments were filled with herbs, I began filling the cubes with oil, topping each herb mold with one or two tablespoons of light (frying) olive oil. Then I made herb cups with melted butter and extra virgin olive oil. Finally I put away large quantities of herbs preserved in vegetable broth (you can use any kind of broth) and water (for herb tea and soup).

  7. I will mince Lemongrass and chop Thai basil, combine the two and freeze in coconut oil BAM!
    ready to tossinto the Wok for stir fry

    I will use olive oil in cubes containing seperate herbs of sweet Basil, Tarragon and cilantro and label the cubes in ziplock freezer bags! Handy-Dandy!

  8. Wow great idea! I have a lot of herbs I use for recipes that could stand to be saved like this. It’s not always convenient to have to go to the store for just a few herbs.

  9. When I lived in California and had lemon trees, I squeezed the juice, strained to desired pulp, and froze cubes of lemon juice. The average size cube is just about 1 ounce. I used them to make lemon meringue pie in winter. .

  10. Hi,
    Thought I should let you know that Lilly Childers has taken your images with out permission from what I can tell and shared the images on her own website in order to generate advertising revenues.
    Here is the URL from one of your recipes that she took images from: http://www.recipebyphoto.com/freeze-fresh-herbs-in-olive-oil/
    And
    http://pinterest.com/pin/157414949448880537/

    Here is the rest of her information:
    Lilly Childers (http://pinterest.com/lillycc)
    http://www.recipebyphoto.com
    http://www.craftbyphoto.com
    http://www.kidskubby.com
    http://www.weddingsbylilly.com/
    I figure I would let awesome recipe creators such as yourself know about this kind of thing as you deserve all the credit. Also if you know any other recipe or craft creators that she took images from please let them know. Keep up the good work!

  11. Parsley in olive oil: use for potatoes, even mashed potatoes. Also let melt in a frying pan, add chopped garlic, crushed red pepper flakes and toss with pasta. Add veggies or chicken as desired for a full meal.

  12. I loved this idea. I boil Anya potatoes then add rock salt lemon juice and various herbs from my garden shake the pan vigorously……delicious

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