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Cooking, not quilting, today. I love cilantro in Mexican and Asian food, but you know how tedious it is to sit there are pick the leaves off the stems. Same goes for parsley and basil. Well, here’s a trick I discovered by accident, but it’s so amazing now I do it on purpose.

This week I got several big bunches of cilantro in my farm share. I can’t use it all right now, so I freeze it for later — as long as I’m going to cook it or chop it up small in something where it’s unrecognizable, it won’t hurt it. Same with the bunches of basil and parsley I’ve gotten in the last couple of weeks.

Take the whole bundle, don’t remove the rubber band on the stems, and wash it. Shake off the extra water or spin it in a salad spinner.

Put the whole bundle (or 2 or 3 or 4) in a large zip-lock bag and put it in the freezer.

When the herbs are frozen solid they are crackly. Take the bag out of the freezer and slap it on the counter a couple of times. All the leaves fall off the stems!!  Open the bag and quickly remove the stems before the leaves start to thaw (less than a minute), then seal up the bag and pop it back in the freezer. If you want to prevent the leaves from getting crushed, you can put them in a solid plastic container.  (Hint: I collect the boxes from Hillshire Farms deli meats – perfect size!)

Now, whenever you need some herbs, just grab some of the loose leaves. If you want them chopped fine, you can even crush them in your hands if you act quickly while they are still frozen crisp from the freezer. Just remember not to keep the bag/box out of the freezer for more than the time it takes to get the leaves out, because they thaw VERY quickly.

That’s all for today — enjoy all the summer garden goodies!

RaNae

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