How to Freeze Fresh Herbs: Rosemary and Thyme
This post shares tips on How to Freeze Rosemary and Thyme and have it to use during the winter in recipes! Did you know that many fresh herbs can be frozen in the summer when they’re abundant and then used all through the winter?
PIN How to Freeze Fresh Herbs: Rosemary and Thyme.
Even though it’s still quite warm in Utah, I can feel the nights getting a bit cooler, and I know it’s not that long until the garden goodness has to either be preserved or lost. I hate losing anything that comes from my garden, and try to freeze as much as possible. Since I have lots and lots of herbs, a few years ago I started to experiment with freezing them to see if I could preserve the flavor enough to make it worthwhile to use the herbs in the winter. I’m no expert, but I’ve learned a few tricks.
I actually discovered how to do this somewhat by accident when I cut the branches off my rosemary and thyme bushes one fall and didn’t have time to pick the leaves off. I washed the herbs, then put the stems into a Ziploc bag and put it in the freezer, not sure what would happen.
I was delightfully surprised when the frozen leaves fell off the stems, and even happier when I tried using some of the frozen rosemary and thyme leaves and discovered they were nearly as good as fresh. Try this if you have rosemary and thyme in your garden and live where there’s a cold winter, and I think you’ll like the result.
Read about the difference between soft herbs and hard herbs:
If you’re going to try freezing herbs, first it helps to understand the difference between soft herbs and hard herbs. Years ago Helen from Beyond Salmon wrote an excellent post on preserving and using herbs in which she explained this well.
Which ones are Soft Herbs?
Basically soft herbs are things like basil, cilantro, parsley, oregano, and mint which are either eaten raw or added only for a few minutes of cooking. I’ve written earlier about how to freeze fresh basil, and I suspect that many of the other soft herbs can be frozen that way also, although basil combines especially well with the olive oil.
Which ones are Hard Herbs?
Hard herbs are things like rosemary, thyme, savory, and sage which are suitable for long cooking times. The two things from this list that I’ve had great luck freezing are rosemary and thyme.
Step One for Freezing Rosemary or Thyme:
To freeze rosemary or thyme, start by cutting some stems with leaves of rosemary or thyme. Make them short enough they’ll fit into a ziploc bag. The herbs should be washed in cold water and either spun dry or blotted dry with paper towels.
Step Two for Freezing Rosemary or Thyme:
Put rosemary in small Ziploc bag.
Use a separate Ziploc bag for the thyme. Let thyme and rosemary stay in the freezer for several weeks.
Step Three for Freezing Rosemary or Thyme:
After a few weeks, take ziploc bag out of the freezer and use a rolling pin to roll over the bag containing the herbs. You should see a significant amount of leaves come loose from the stems. If some leaves don’t come off, you can remove the loose leaves and freeze the others a bit longer, or pick the rest off by hand.
This rosemary has been frozen for nearly a year and is still green and very fragrant.
Thyme is a bit more fragile than rosemary, but this thyme is still great after nearly a year in the freezer.
Step Four: Storing the Rosemary and thyme leaves.
After I’ve separated the leaves from the stems, I like to store my frozen herbs in canning jars which have a lid that seals well. This keeps moisture away from the herbs. (The jars go back in the freezer.)
Enjoy using your frozen rosemary and thyme!
That’s how easy it is to preserve the rosemary and thyme from your garden to use in wonderful soups and stews all winter long. Use the frozen leaves in any recipe calling for fresh rosemary or thyme. For recipes created using dried thyme or rosemary, use about twice as much of the frozen herbs as you would the dried version.
More Tips for Freezing Things from the Garden and Other Ingredients:
My Favorite Tips for Freezing Garden Tomatoes, Fresh Herbs, and Vegetables
More About Freezing Fresh Herbs: Freezing Sage, Tarragon, and Mint
Freezing Fresh Lemon and Lime Juice
66 Comments on “How to Freeze Fresh Herbs: Rosemary and Thyme”
I have a huge rosemary bush. Last year I follow some on-line instructions to freeze the clippings that were between 3 – 8 inches long. I rinsed them. Dried them. Then put then on a tray separately to freeze. I put them in a freezer bag afterward but after being in the freezer bag a couple of months they turned brown so I thru them out. What did I do wrong. I know have tried freezing them the chopped up leaves in ice cubes with water and topped with olive oil. I also make rosemary pesto out of it an froze them in ice cube trays like I do with basil pesto. So we will see what happens with those. I am also going to rinse and dry some long clippings. Then roll them separately in Saran Wrap and into a freezer bag to freeze. Hope that works. Do they stay green better if you blanch them first?
Hi Judi. The only method I’ve used for freezing rosemary is the one I describe here, where I freeze them on the stems. I do wash the rosemary and dry it carefully. Mine don’t turn black and they stay good for a long time.
Great post! We have lots of thyme and rosemary this year.
I grow lots of flat leaf parsley and actually find it freezes very well. I wash, de-stem, dry and freeze them in zipper bags. Come winter soup time, I slice off a frozen chunk, mince it, and add it in at the end. All flavor and color are preserved!
OMG, I am absolutely going to try that! Thanks for the tip.
How well do you think that the rosemary and thyme will do if I put them in my sealable foodsaver bags? Or do you think it will crush the herbs too much as it is sucking out the air?
I might let them freeze inside the open bag, then seal when they’re frozen. But I think it’s a great idea!