Now that I’ve had a flourishing herb garden on my patio for the past two summers, I’m always looking for new ways to preserve herbs. I enjoy using my herbs fresh, dried or — in the case of herb cubes — frozen.
Freezing herbs in cubes are great for two reasons. One, it’s a great way to maintain the freshness of herbs while preserving them. Two, it’s a great way to speed up prep and cook times. I currently make two different kinds of herb cubes: one kind of cube contains olive oil, green onions and garlic, and the other cube contains butter and cilantro. I use the first kind of cube when making stir fry and the second kind in cilantro-lime rice. Both dishes consist of a lot of prep work, so it’s really nice to be able to cut corners whenever possible.
The main reason I started making herb cubes is because I was struggling with figuring out a way to use produce before it spoils. I don’t use green onions or cilantro enough to get through a fresh batch before it spoils, so making herb cubes completely solves that problem. But that leads to another issue of mine..
Despite loving garlic, I hate having to peel and mince garlic. So I buy packages of peeled garlic in order to avoid the tedious task of peeling garlic. This is the kind I get:
I can’t bring myself to cook with the jarred peeled garlic, so I still mince or grate garlic on my own. And I still dislike that process, especially with making herb ice cubes, because I make two trays of the green onion, garlic and olive oil cubes at a time — so that means I have to mince a ton of garlic to make these. I usually just mince and wince as I do it, but I figured out a workaround the last time I made herb cubes, and I’m beyond proud of myself for thinking of this.
Forgive me if it’s a bit obvious, I tend to push my brain into a corner sometimes (enter clever Dirty Dancing pun here). But I finally realized that instead of mincing garlic for the herb cubes, I could simply dump all the peeled garlic into my blender, add olive oil and blend until the combination liquefies. Awesome, right? The blended combo smelled outrageously tantalizing, too.
So let’s back up now to how I actually start making these cubes. When making the onion, olive oil and garlic cubes, I cut up four bunches of green onions and sprinkled the onions into two ice cube trays.
Then, instead of mincing the garlic, which I typically would do with my garlic mincer, I simply added the garlic to my blender and filled the blender with olive oil to the two-cup line.
I did this instead of mincing the garlic, because the more garlic I mince, the wetter my hands get, which in turn makes it even harder to mince the garlic (because I can’t turn the mincer correctly when my hands are wet, oddly enough). This issue with my garlic mincer won’t make any sense unless you see the type of garlic mincer I use, so here’s a link to the mincer I currently use. It’s a handy dandy mincer when you’re doing just a few cloves, but it’s hard to mince a legion of cloves. I have yet to find a garlic mincer I really love, I seem to have an issue with a variety of models. Lately, I’ve been just grating the garlic because that somehow seems easier. If I can incorporate this liquefied garlic approach to other recipes that call for garlic, I’m going to do it because I am super satisfied with the results.
ANYWAY — when I finished blending the garlic and olive oil….
….I poured a little bit of the mixture into each of the cubes and then filled up the cubes with a little more olive oil as needed.
Then I put the finished cube trays in the freezer to solidify. When I came back to them the next day, they looked like this:
Well if the prep work didn’t seem tedious enough with that batch of cubes, you’ll be super excited for the process of making cilantro butter cubes! Can you sense the sarcasm? It’s there, don’t worry.
The cilantro butter cubes only consist of two ingredients (guess what they are!), but cilantro is trickier to freeze. In order to retain the flavor of cilantro when freezing, you must blanche the cilantro first. So to get started, I filled a medium-sized pot with water and set it to high. Then I washed two bunches of cilantro thoroughly. Then I filled a large mixing bowl with water and ice cubes, and set it right by my stove.
Once the pot of water came to a boil, I started dipping the cilantro in the water, removing when the cilantro just wilts a little — then placed the wilted cilantro in the water bath. I kept doing this with all of the cilantro.
Next, I took two sticks of butter and placed them in a small pot and heated them on medium to medium low until completely melted. Then I turned the burner off and removed the pot from heat.
Once all of the cilantro had been in the ice water bath for a while, I started taking it out and chopping it, cutting off the stems as best as I could and throwing that part away. Then I portioned the chopped cilantro into one ice cube tray.
Next, I spooned a little bit of butter into each cube until they were all filled…
…and placed the tray in the freezer to solidify. It takes about a day (or overnight) for these cubes to be ready. They look like this when they’re ready to be used:
I make them so far in advance that I’m never in urgent need of them. I just make more batches once I see my supply is getting low! It takes at least four months to work through a batch of either of the cubes, which is pretty great I think!
The great thing about making these cubes in particular is that I make stir fry and Chipotle-style burritos fairly often — I usually make each recipe every week or every other week — so it’s nice to have these on hand since I make those meals so often. I have a ton of other herbs I’d love to make into olive oil or butter cubes as well. I’m trying to figure out what combinations I could use in recipes I already make, and new recipes I could use new varieties for, in order to figure out what other herb cubes I could use a ton in the future! I’m thinking a rosemary and thyme herb cube with olive oil or butter would be great. I know I’d use chive cubes if I made them too. I have tons of herbs that I’m not sure how to use really (savory, sage, thyme, rosemary, peppermint) so I need to do more research on these herbs to get new ideas for herb cubes AND new recipes to use the cubes in!
This is a great starting point for anyone looking to preserve herbs and simplify prep and cooking times. Hopefully this post inspires you to try your own varieties! I’m so happy about my herb cubes and how well they’ve worked out for me. I hope you love them, too.
Garlic, Green Onion & Olive Oil Herb Cubes
1 package of peeled garlic (approximately the same amount as one garlic bulb)
4 small bunches of green onions, thinly sliced
- Wash and thinly slice 4 small bunches of green onions. Evenly distribute the sliced onions in two ice cube trays.
- Place peeled garlic in a blender. Note: If using unpeeled garlic, simply peel the garlic first and then place it in a blender.
- Add olive oil to the blender so the mixture reaches the two-cup line. Blend mixture until liquefied.
- Evenly pour mixture into ice cube trays. Add additional olive oil to the trays as needed — just so that each cube is filled to the top.
- Freeze overnight. Remove herb cubes from trays and store in a gallon-sized freezer bag in the freezer.
Cilantro Butter Herb Cubes
2 bunches of cilantro
2 sticks of butter
- Fill a medium-sized pot with water and heat on high until boiling.
- While waiting for the water to boil, rinse cilantro thoroughly and add water and ice cubes to a large mixing bowl and place next to the stove.
- Heat two sticks of butter on medium heat until melted, then remove from heat and set aside.
- Once water is boiling, dip the cilantro in the water until it just wilts. Place the wilted cilantro in the ice water bath for a few minutes.
- Cut the cilantro up, removing and discarding the stems, and put a little cilantro into each cube of one ice cube tray.
- Spoon a little melted butter into each cube of the tray, then place in the freezer. Freeze overnight.
- Once frozen, remove cubes and place in a quart-sized gallon bag and store in the freezer.