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Preserve fresh herbs in the freezer

Published 4:46pm Saturday, July 20, 2013

Summertime is the best time to capture the freshest flavors, with an abundance of local produce items from the supermarket as well as your backyard gardens or farmer’s markets.

But the trick is capturing those summer flavors and making them last year-round.  That’s where freezing comes in.

Most people have experience with frozen fruits and vegetables.  Did you know that you can freeze some herbs, too?

Drying herbs is much more common, but certain herbs like basil, chives, marjoram and thyme can be frozen, too.

In fact, some of these herbs will preserve better by freezing than drying.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

• First, start with the freshest herbs immediately after harvesting.

•Next, be sure to clean the herbs with running water, then drain.  No need to blanch the herbs.

•Then, chop the fresh herb, and mix with water.  This step works well in a food processor.  Freeze the herb/water mixture in ice cube trays until needed.

•Or, store the herbs in a sealed plastic bag with all the air removed.

•Remember to label the ice cube tray or plastic bag with the date and contents.

•Store at zero degrees and use within eight to twelve months for the best quality.

Frozen herbs can easily be added to dishes throughout the year.  Add basil to pesto, pasta sauce or pizza.  Add chives to mashed potatoes or homemade veggie dip.  Add marjoram to a meat marinade.  Add thyme to roasted vegetables.

The benefit of adding herbs to cooking is that you can maximize flavor while limiting the need for salt, which makes the recipe healthier.  Herbs also offer antioxidants, another health benefit.

Preserving herbs from the summer months will allow you to savor the freshest flavors, save money and improve the nutritional quality of your cooking year-round.

Grilled corn-on-the-cob with basil butter

Serves 4

All you need

•¼ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

•2 tbsp chopped fresh basil

•1⁄8 tsp salt

•1⁄8 tsp black pepper

•4 ears corn-on-cob, husks and silk removed

All you do

1. Stir butter, basil, salt and black pepper until combined; set aside.

2. Wrap each ear of corn individually in aluminum foil.

3. Grill over medium-heat about 20 minutes or until kernels are tender, turning occasionally.

4. Remove corn from grill; unwrap corn and serve with basil butter.

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