Working and storing fresh herbs and other ready to use ingredients (Part II)
1- Fresh herbs, bunch: I place them in cold water for some minutes before storing so that all soft leaves become crispy again. Then I place them into perforated zip-loc bags with the stems wrapped in a wet paper towel (kitchen towel). They last 10 or 12 days.
2- Fresh herbs, chopped, frozen: I bleach them in boiling water for a few seconds. This process helps chlorophyl (the substance that gives green color to leaves) to remain unchanged and thus chopped herbs keep an intense green color. It also prevents some of the oxidation that occurs when chopping.
Then I dry them with a kitchen towel (softly) and I proceed to chop them. Then I wrap them in small amounts into aluminium or plastic foil, as tightly as possible same way you wrap a candy. Then I store them in the freezer until ready to use. You can use this kind of herbs for stews, soups, etc. They last for months
3- Fresh herbs, chopped, fresh: I chop them and place them into a glass container adding enough oil (olive or vegetable) until covering the surface of the herbs. I add more oil to the jar as I use the herbs for cooking since some of the oil is used too when taking herbs from the jar. You should make sure the chopped herbs are always covered with oil so that air does not get into the spaces between chopped herbs and start decomposing them. Same principle as for any oil preserved food. They last for two weeks in the fridge
4- Other handy ingredients ready to use: I normally keep a glass container with the following things in my fridge. It saves me time when cooking as I normally come late from work.
a– Chopped parsley and garlic mix, preserved in oil with the same technique as item 3.
b– Chopped onion, idem.
c- chopped red bell pepper (or mix of all peppers, according to seasons of the year), idem
d– chopped garlic, idem. (see my post on garlic for full information on different ways of handling and using garlic: Garlic 101)
These are mainly “basic” items used in most recipes so it is very handy for me to keep them ready to use in the fridge.
They normally last in perfect condition for two weeks or a bit more, depending on how fresh they were at the time of buying them.
Parsley and Pepper tend to soften faster than onion as they might start to get jelly-like after a couple of weeks.
Thus, I use the infused oil for salads or other preparations after the chopped items finish.
I know it is a lot of work, but I do it one day and I have them ready for two weeks. It is worth it. Of course you can use a food processor for chopping
5- Grated/chopped carrots, fresh: you can keep grated carrots for salads, for example, in a zip loc bag, perforated inside the vegetable part of the fridge.
6- Grated/chopped carrots for cooking, frozen: If you have a food processor with grater, it is optimum. I normally buy 2 kilos of good carrots, peel them and then grate them. I store them in zip loc bags in the freezer. I place the grated carrot in not much thick layer so I can break a frozen portion with my hands when needed for cooking. You can also store it in small portions. This is good for cooked carrot. (stews, soups, etc) not for using in salads as after defrosting the grated carrot turns soft.
Another method for keeping frozen chopped veggies is to chop onion, pepper or whatever you need, place it in portions into an ice cube tray and after frozen, take them out, wrap with foil and keep in the freeze, ready to use in cubes.
I hope this is helpful. If anyone has any other usefull techniques, please comment.