Thyme is a popular and versatile herb that you can combine with other herbs to flavor pasta sauces and seasoning rubs. Whether you have bought it at the supermarket or grown it in your garden, you may find yourself with more thyme than you can use right away. Can you freeze thyme as a way to preserve the herb for use another day?
The good news is that thyme freezes well, as long as you don’t leave it in the freezer for too long. Common thyme is best for freezing, as it can withstand outdoor temperatures below zero. Thyme’s flavor is best when the herb is fresh, but freezing it preserves the flavor better than drying it. Its woody stems allow it to withstand the freezing process better than more delicate herbs that would break down and become slimy. Even so, you should try to use it within six months since its flavor will eventually degrade.
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Before freezing thyme
Wash the thyme and allow it to dry, or use a paper towel to blot it dry. If you only want to use the leaves rather than the whole sprigs, you can pull the leaves off the stems once the thyme is dry. Whichever method you choose for freezing thyme, you will start by washing and drying the herb. This allows you to preserve the clean herb, minus any bugs or soil.
Method 1: Place the leaves or whole sprigs into a resealable plastic bags
Place the thyme into the bags, then squeeze out as much air as you can before closing it. Place it into the freezer.
This method is the fastest and easiest way to freeze the herb, but it has drawbacks. For instance, the sprigs can freeze together, making it difficult to get a single portion without thawing more of the herb than you need. If you thaw too much thyme, you may have to discard the excess, since the unfrozen herb will have a relatively short shelf life. It will last about a week in the refrigerator, which is much shorter than the shelf life of fresh thyme. Try flash freezing to avoid having to thaw out more thyme than necessary.
Method 2: Flash freeze thyme
Flash freeze the thyme by first blanching the sprigs for about a minute, then cooling them rapidly in an ice bath before drying them. Spread them on a baking sheet and place the sheet in your freezer. Divide the thyme into individual portions that you can then bag and return to the freezer.
Method 3: Freeze thyme in an ice cube tray
The ice cube tray method is another way to freeze fresh herbs in individual portions. Place a few teaspoons of thyme leaves into the compartments of an ice cube tray and then fill up with some olive oil. Place the tray into the freezer and leave it there until the cubes are solid. Pop them out and store them in a freezer bag. When you need some thyme, just drop one of the cubes into your dish. Use cubes of frozen thyme and olive oil in pasta sauces and soups. Once melted, you can even use them as part of a topping for herbed flatbreads.
Method 4: Make a thyme butter (for freezing) by combining fresh thyme leaves with softened butter
Mix the butter and thyme using a stand mixer or food processor, then place the mixture on a sheet of plastic wrap. Form the herbed butter into a log shape, then roll it up in the plastic wrap. Store the butter log in the freezer. When you need some of your thyme butter, just break or cut off a piece.