Preserve your harvest by learning how to freeze mixed fresh herbs and garden greens for the winter months ahead! Find out what herbs you can include, and what you should leave out, so you can stash your freezer with a nutritious and flavorful Italian-inspired herb mix that can be used in lots of recipes. This method of freezing garden herbs can be prepared in less than 30 minutes!
The fall temps are getting chilly and suddenly the garden needs to be preserved or lost to the coming winter! This method of freezing herbs is simple and easy and allows you to preserve any amount of herbs and greens you have, no matter how large or small.
You can chop and bag any herbs and greens your are growing to freeze into a useful Italian-flavored mix that is so handy to toss in recipes through the winter! I also love to make Freezer Pesto as a way to preserve garden herbs and greens!
It's also the time of year to get your garden tomatoes preserved before the first frost! If you aren't excited about the whole canning process, try this Roasted Tomato Basil Soup for the Freezer and this Freezer Marinara Sauce.
These are the herbs and greens I had growing this year to add to my freezer mix, but you certainly don't need to use all of these, and can use other herbs in any amounts you have.
Herbs and Greens to Included in your Mix
Don't worry at all about the quantity, this recipe is flexible to freeze the amounts and different varieties of herbs and greens that you are growing!
You can use any or all of the following herbs or garden greens in any amount you have. These are all neutral or Italian in flavor and work well added to lots of recipe!
- Swiss Chard
- Arugula - I don't use too much arugula because its strong flavor can take over, but a little is ok!
- Basil - Basil is #1 to boost the Italian flavor we are going for! But, if you don't have it, that's ok too!
- Scallions and Chives
Do NOT Use these Herbs
Herbs with strong flavors that don't marry well with the basic savory Italian flavor profile should be avoided. These include:
- Lettuce that is eaten fresh in salads such as romaine or leaf lettuce should not be frozen.
How to Freeze Mixed Herbs and Garden Greens
To freeze mixed herbs, you will simply wash, chop each herb, and mix them in a freezer bag!
Step 1 - Walk through your garden and pick everything you intend to include, but keep them separate. I find it much easier to wash and chop each herb on its own than try to chop them all together.
Step 2 - Wash the herbs and greens very well under cold water. Be especially careful with the underside of leaves, basil and kale for example, can have dirt or even bugs hiding!
Step 3 - Chop each herb separately, especially if you have a lot to do. Don't try to chop an enormous piles of herbs at once, it's tougher to get them finely chopped without making a mess.
Step 4 - Hold your herbs firmly in your left hand, and make slices with your right hand, keeping the tip of the knife on the cutting board.
Step 5 - For some herbs and greens, you will want to remove the stems before chopping. Strip the leaves off of kale, Swiss chard, oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary and sage. Then "wad" the leaves up into a tight bundle before running your knife through them.
Step 6 - Then place your left hand on the top of the blade and with the tip of the knife on the cutting board, give them another rough chop.
Step 7 - As you finish chopping each herb or pile, add it to a freezer bag.
Step 8 - When you have added all your chopped herbs and greens, seal the bag and shake it to mix everything together. Then lay it flat on the counter, unseal the bag slightly and press some of the air out and seal again. Label and freeze flat.
- Removing the Stems - Some stems are edible while others are not, or at least not really. For example, parsley stems are edible, so you'll want to chop off and discard the main bottom stem portion, but you don't need to worry about picking every leaf from every stem. That would take forever, and is totally not necessary!
- Stripping the Leaves off Stems - With some herbs, its easier to just strip the leaves from the stems with your fingers instead of chopping them off with a knife. For herbs like thyme, oregano, basil or kale, just hold the stem end in your left hand, then with your right hand, grab the leaves next to your left hand and pull them off, your hands moving apart.
- Amounts and Combinations - Again, you can use this method for as much or as little herbs and greens as you have. You can also use any types of herbs from the list above to make up your mix. So, if all you have is kale and basil, that's fine! If you have a ton of herbs, fill 2 or 3 freezer bags! Don't include dill, mint, cilantro, tarragon, or lettuce.
- Wadding Up the Herbs - This sounds strange, but really it's the best trick to make this process efficient! Don't try to chop a massive pile of herbs on your cutting board. Instead, take a smaller pile, of one herb or a combination of a couple, and pile it on itself, folding it over and over, essentially "wadding it up" and holding it firmly with your left hand. Then simply run a knife through the pile slicing it up. Then with the knife tip on the board and your left hand on top of the blade, give it another quick chop.
- Remove the Bad Leaves - Anything that you wouldn't eat fresh, don't add it to your frozen mix. So black spots on basil, dry brown pieces on chive, anything like that should be removed. I do think eating kale with holes in it, washed very well, is fine.
- Save the Stems! - Check out how to make Homemade Chicken Stock from Bones and Vegetable Scraps. The stems from your herbs add great flavor to your stock!
Recipes to Use your Frozen Mixed Herbs
Now that you have that large bag of mixed herbs and greens in your freezer, you can pull it out, adding a sprinkle of flakey healthy flavor to lots of dishes!
By using neutral to Italian flavored herbs and greens in your mix, the possible dishes they can be added to are abundant! You can also add your frozen herbs in place of dried Italian seasoning in recipes. Use anywhere from 1 Tablespoon to ¼ cup.
Your frozen herbs should be cooked into dishes, and not thawed or sprinkled over a finished dish to garnish. Add them directly from frozen to a cooking dish. Add them toward the end of the cooking time to retain their flavor. Here are some great recipes to use frozen mixed herbs!
- Soup - Add a few Tablespoons of herbs to any basic savory or Italian inspired soup such as chicken noodle, Pasta Fagioli Soup, Split Pea Soup, or Sweet Potato Corn Chowder.
- Red Pasta Sauce - Since your herbs are Italian in flavor, they work well cooked into lots of pasta sauces like Homemade Spaghetti, Italian Sausage Bolognese, or Grandpa's Spaghetti and Meatballs.
- Creamy Pastas - The mixed herbs work equally well added to a creamy pasta as it simmers like Creamy Zucchini Mushroom Pasta or Creamy Tomato Pink Sauce Pasta.
- Pizza Topping - A sprinkle of herbs is a healthy topping for Homemade Pizza!
- Hidden Veggies - You can add a touch of your herb mix to lots of recipes, just to incorporate a few extra vegetables to your families diet without them really noticing! Family favorites like sloppy joes, tater tot casserole, or Chicken Veggie Pot Pie could all have a few herbs mixed in as they finish simmering.
- Smoothies - You could even make a separate bag for just neutral greens like kale and spinach and add a bit to your morning smoothie!
About 6 months to 1 year. Pull it out any time to sprinkle a little summer flavor and nutrition into your recipes all year!
No. You will want to use your frozen herbs cooked into dishes only. You would not want to sprinkle frozen herbs to garnish a dish, or add them to a fresh dish like bruschetta. They are a useful ingredient to have in the freezer, but they are not the same as the fresh herbs they used to be!
Yes! This is a fun way to freeze herbs, mixing them in with butter or olive oil to make a compound butter, and then freezing that either rolled in parchment paper or in ice cube trays. These are great to throw in a skillet with sizzling chicken or fish. The chopped herbs in a freezer bag method is better if you are preserving a larger quantity of herbs and greens. But, you could make both at the same time!
No, once you chop and bag your herbs, they should go directly into your freezer to keep them at their peak of freshness.
No, you should use them straight from frozen and into the cooking dish. They should always get cooked, even just for a few minutes, never added frozen to a finished dish.
More Recipes for your Garden Greens!
How to Freeze Mixed Fresh Herbs and Garden Greens
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- kale, spinach, arugula, or Swiss chard
- basil or parsley
- thyme, oregano, rosemary, or sage
- scallions or chives
- Use any amounts and any combination of herbs and greens from your garden including kale, spinach, Swiss chard, arugula, basil, parsley, thyme, sage, oregano, rosemary, chives or scallions.
- Wash all herbs very well under cold running water.
- Chop each herb individually, or at least group them into smaller piles. Don't try to chop a huge pile of herbs all at once.
- Strip the leaves from the stems with your hand from kale, basil, oregano, thyme, sage and rosemary. Chop the main stems off of Swiss chard and parsley. You don't need to pluck each leave off of parsley, the stems are edible.
- Pile up your herbs and greens on a cutting board, folding them over and over themselves with your hands to "wad them up." Hold the wad tightly with your left hand and thinly slice with the knife in your right hand. Then with the tip of the knife on the cutting board and your left hand over the top of the blade, give the pile a rough chop.
- Add the herbs to a freezer bag as you chop each pile. When you are done, seal the bag and shake it to mix. Then lay the bag flat, unseal it slightly to squeeze out most of the air and reseal.
- Label the bag and freeze flat for 6 months to a year.
- To use, sprinkle a Tablespoon or up to ¼ cup of frozen herbs into a cooking dish. Do not thaw or eat without cooking.
- Wash well in a colander or salad spinner, checking the underside of leaves for dirt or bugs.
- It's easier to chop your herbs in smaller amounts, so maybe one herb at a time, depending on your quantity. Then mix them all together in the bag at the end.
- Don't use herbs with strong flavors that don't go well with most basic savory or Italian flavored dishes. Avoid dill, mint, cilantro, tarragon or lettuce that you would not cook.
- Use your frozen herbs to add flavor and nutrition to soups, pizza, pasta, roasted meats and sauces.
- A bag of mixed herbs can be frozen for 6 months to 1 year.