Preserving Summer Garden Delights: Tips for Freezing & Drying Produce …

July 3rd, 2012 § 2 comments § permalink

Homemade, Sun Dried Tomatoes –  For Easy Tutorial Post Click Here

It’s Fourth of July weekend. Barbecues are sizzling, picnic baskets are filling and fireworks fill the night skies. Summer is here at last and, as they say, the living is easy. Fresh produce flows from the garden in a steady stream and fills the table at every meal. It’s hard to imagine that the rich bounty will ever end. But wait… What of Winter… Remember last year’s early Winter? Oh I know it’s hard to think about that chilly, White Witch now, but before we know it, Jack Frost will be having one of his late night parties and all of the fresh herbs and sweet tomatoes will be but a memory again. Well, don’t let it all slip away so fast! Preserve a bit of summer here and there —whenever you have an spare moment— to savor when snowbanks are piled a mile high and bitter winds howl outside your windows.

Frozen Herb Cubes in Oil, Butter, Broth, Juice or Water – For Easy Tutorial Post, Click Here

Imagine popping a few of your own homemade, freshly-frozen herb cubes into the sauté pan; inhaling the delicious aroma of summertime basil as the olive oil melts on the stove. Perhaps you’ll add an onion or a clove of garlic pulled from the handmade braids dangling from your ceiling, or even better, a few of those sweet, sun dried tomatoes you put up in late July. There’s nothing like being transported to summer in the middle of a cold winter night…

Stored in Jars of Olive Oil, Sun Dried Tomatoes Make Beautiful Gifts – For Easy Tutorial Post, Click Here

Dried Herbs Add Great Flavor to Teas, Sauces, Soups and Many Savory & Sweet Dishes. Preserve the Best Flavor by Cutting Fresh, First Thing in the Morning, Sorting and Bundling Before Hanging to Dry – Easy Tutorial Post, Click Here.

So, now that all the time you’ve invested is beginning to pay rich dividends in the garden, be sure to set something aside for the future. Harvest extra herbs from the garden, and freeze as many as you can in cubes of butter, olive, coconut or other oil, juice, broth or water (see tutorial here). Later, you can pull those fresh-frozen herb cubes from the freezer and pop them into all sorts of savory and sweet dishes, or simply add a cube of minty freshness to your morning tea. Still more herbs? Bundle, tie and hang the rest to dry in a closet or attic (click here for herb drying tutorial), drape some from the beams beside the braids of garlic and onions, or add them to bottled vinegars and oils. Click on the other photos posted here for addition tips on putting food by, and stay tuned for more ways to preserve the harvest throughout sweet, sweet summertime!

Onions and Garlic are Beautiful When Braided and Hung from Kitchen Beams. For Longer-Term Storage, I Hang or Box Them in My Cellar. Click Here for an Easy How-to-Braid Onions and Garlic Tutorial.

Braiding Onions and Garlic is a Simple and Attractive Way to Store Produce Where You Need it Most: In the Kitchen! Click Here for Step-by-Step Photo Tutorial Post.

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All images, articles and content on this site, (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my images without asking first. Thank you! Michaela

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Preserving the Harvest: Fresh-Frozen Herbs in Oil, Butter, Broth or Water…

August 26th, 2010 § 51 comments § permalink

Frozen Herb Cubes with Olive Oil: Photographs Copyright Michaela Medina – thegardenerseden.com

At six o’clock this morning, I was rather annoyed to be awakened by a gang of squawking bluejays. But when I rose, I discovered a beautiful rainbow on the western horizon. Suddenly, I found myself feeling more than grateful for the wake-up call from the noisy, blue boys in my ‘hood. The rain has ended for now, and the morning sun is warm on the terrace, where I have set up my office for the day. But before I start work on plant lists for a garden design I’m working on, I have a neat garden project to share with you. Inclement weather kept me indoors early this week, providing me with a bit of free time and the opportunity to freeze fresh herb-cubes for winter. This project is simple and fun; easy as making fruit-pops and a great way to teach children about preserving food from the garden. If you also make a few juice pops at the same time —to reward the little helping hands— so much the better!

Fresh Herbs from the Garden

Begin by gathering empty ice cube trays (or egg cups or small freezer molds), zip-lock or other storage bags, and bundles of fresh herbs from the garden. Bring the herbs inside, and as you wash, dry and pick through the leaves, think about how you might like to use them over the coming months. Do you make lots of soup in winter? Set aside a few bundles of your favorite soup herbs. These can be frozen in cubes of room-temperature water, vegetable broth or chicken/beef bouillon. Do you like to fry or roast with herbs? Bundles of your favorite cooking herbs can be preserved by freezing them in vegetable oil (I like to use light olive oil for high-temp pan frying). If you like to use herb butters or herb-infused oils for bread dipping, you can freeze them in butter (softened or melted over very low heat and cooled a bit) or in extra virgin olive oil, to pull out of the freezer later and enjoy at room temperature all winter long.

Separating Fresh Herb Leaves for Simple Frozen Oil Cubes

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).

Simple Cubes of  Olive Oil with Fresh Basil and Olive Oil with Fresh Rosemary – Ready to Stick in the Freezer

Once the molds are filled, freeze them overnight. You may wish to make a note of the herb content and oil/water measurement in each tray. Once frozen, it can be tricky to identify the herbs. I do freeze in batches and make notes to avoid confusion later. Once removed from the freezer, pop the cubes from the trays and slip them into labeled plastic bags. I write the name(s) of the herbs, the fluid measurement, and the date on my bags. Then, I store them flat in the freezer (they should remain in separate units, unless they melt – so work quickly!). Now, you can enjoy fresh herbs in your cooking all winter long, at a fraction of the market cost!

After Freezing for 24 Hours – Remove the Cubes from the Trays and Separate into Labeled Ziplock Bags. Store Flat in the Freezer.

There are many ways to preserve and store your garden produce. This particular method of freezing herbs has been around for a long time —my mother and grandmother used to preserve them in this way— and it works very well. If you are interested in learning more about how to preserve your garden produce, I highly recommend the two books pictured and linked below, which I reviewed for Barnes & Noble’s Garden Variety Blog in June (click here to read the post on B&N, where you can also purchase either book). Both titles contain new & old ideas —freezing, drying, root-cellaring and more— for preserving the harvest.

Buy How to Store Your Garden Produce from Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble

Buy Putting Food By at Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble

An Early Morning Visit to the Potager – Gathering Herbs and Edible Flowers for Lunch

Article and photographs ⓒ 2010 Michaela Medina – The Gardener’s Eden

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CONTACT INFORMATION IS AT LEFT. THANK YOU! MICHAELA.

All photographs, articles and content on this site, (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of Michaela Medina – The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links (including Amazon book links). A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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