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
68 Comments on “How to Freeze Fresh Herbs: Rosemary and Thyme”
Hi Kalyn, thanks for this great article.
Im now freezing many types of fresh herbs, and my cooking has found a new leash of life.
Im also freezing peeled garlic cloves, sliced ginger, and best of of, whole chilli peppers. This is great for me because now the only perishables I need to worry about are the main meat and veg.
Amy there’s no reason you couldn’t freeze butter with fresh herbs, but it’s not something I’ve tried so I don’t know what combinations to recommend. I do know that herb butter recipes can be found though, so you might try googling “herb butter” and see what you find. Maybe someone who’s done it will comment here too.
Can you freeze butter that is made with fresh herbs? What herbs would make the best butter?
Lucette, if you live where it’s cold, you”ll love having the frozen ones.
Helen, I freeze Kaffir lime leaves too, forgot to mention that!!
Karina, I know what you mean about rosemary envy. I have that when I go to California.
Shuna, great tip.
Gattina, sorry to hear about the overly tidy husband.!
In the place I live the humidity is always low…I dried a bunch of oregano last month, looked good… but before I decided on how to storge it (crushed? then put in bag? or jar? or in fridge?…), my husband thought that was a garbage and threw it away by mistake… grrr!
And if you want to have fresh herbs for sweet purposes in the future, try this:
I love all your how to photos. They speak volumes!
What a fabulous informative article. Great tips!
When Steve and I honeymooned in Italy we stayed at an old Tuscan farmhouse B & B. A rosemary plant stood outside the kitchen door – it was over six feet tall! I had severe rosemary envy.
This is such a great idea. I’ve only frozen kafir lime leaves before, but now I’ll try it with other stirdy herbs.
Thanks for the tip 🙂
Such a good idea–I’ve got rosemary and 2 kinds of thyme–have to get busy.
Sher and Christine, you’re lucky to live where it doesn’t get that cold. (Have I mentioned recently how much I hate winter?)
Joe, you’re in for a cold winter where you are now. Good luck. Hope it’s not too bad.
Gattina, I haven’t tried freezing oregano. Let me know if you try it. I’d consider it a “soft” herb so I might freeze it in olive oil or make it into pesto. However, I think the dried oregano is pretty good too.
a little thing makes a big difference!… I used to put my rosemary in (double) ziplock bags, still can’t stop the moisture going in. Will store them in canning jars now, thanks Kalyn. Btw, I have a lot of fresh oregano (just start planting it this year), shall I freeze or air dry them?
Great tips Kayln! I’m sure we will be needing this when winter comes around since we don’t have the luxury of warm times like we did in Phoenix!
Great tips Kalyn. I’ll try this with my thyme. The rosemary keeps well right in the ground over our rather mild winters.
Your rosemary and thyme look very good, I must say. Our winters are mild here, so I normally only freeze basil–in olive oil.
Tanna, you’re welcome.
Alanna, yes, put the jars back in the freezer.
Garrett, works great.
Vinella, they freeze very well.
Kevin, yes, even better if you’re buying herbs and end up wasting them.
That’s a great tip. Perhaps espacially for those of us who have to buy fresh herbs and end up throwing so much away.
Thanks for sharing these tips of storing herbs in freezer.
Hereafter wards i can store without seeing blackspots.
How awesome. I didn’t know you could freeze it.
Do you put the jars back in the freezer then? I’m definitely going to do this. My friend Sharon also brings her pot of rosemary inside for the winter … works great.
My rosemary is fine all winter but the thyme dies back. I’ll try this with my thyme! Thanks.