Thyme is a popular herb that’s used in seasoning blends. It’s great for poultry, stuffing, chowders, soups, and even fish sauces. This herb gives foods that slightly minty flavor.
Whether you’ve bought thyme from the grocery stores or grow them in your garden, you’ll always be going to end up with a lot of leftover thyme. Like most other herbs, thyme doesn’t last very long once they are harvested. Storing them in the fridge will give you about a week before they go bad. What if you want to store them longer. Would freezing thyme be an option?
So can you freeze thyme? Yes, you can definitely freeze thyme. This herb is great for storing in the freezer due to its small size. They can stay fresh in the freezer for up to 6 months. However, in order for them to last for a long time, you’ll need to prep them first and properly store them in the freezer.
Does Thyme Freeze Well?
Thyme is an herb that freezes very well due to hardiness. Thyme can be frozen with the sprigs or just the leaves. The leaves will simply fall off once it’s cooked.
For soups and stews, freezing just the leaves is the best method. All you need to do is take the thymes from the freezer and add them to the meal while it’s being cooked.
Thyme can be frozen as is, without any prepping. However, their shelf life in the freezer will be short. They will remain fresh for only 1-2 months.
To keep them stored for a longer period of time in the freezer, you’ll either need to blanch or flash freeze them first. Using one of the methods will preserve the flavors, textures, and nutritions of the herb.
How to Freeze Thyme
There are several methods for freezing thyme. Depending on what you’ll be using them for, they should always be prep first. This will ensure they last as long as possible.
Of course, you can always freeze fresh thyme in a freezer bag without any prepping. Doing so will shorten them freshness in the freezer. If you’re planning to do this, make sure to use the herbs within a month for the best quality.
Otherwise, for longer storage time, it’s best to use one of the following methods to prep and freeze thymes:
Blanching and Freezing Fresh Thyme
Blanching thyme will help preserve the color, texture, and flavor of the herb during freezing.
Similar to freezing mint, blanching thyme first removes some of its woodiness. This will make the texture a bit softer and more subtle in flavors.
Foods such as soups, chowders, and stir-fry will benefit from blanched thyme. These meals require the thyme to remain green and vibrant.
- Rinse the thyme to remove any debris and pests that may be on them.
- In a pot, heat the water until it boils.
- Blanch thyme with the sprigs for about 45 seconds.
- After that, immediately transfer the herb to a bath of cold water.
- Leave them for about 10 minutes or until it’s completely cooled.
- Using a paper towel, gently press on the thyme until it’s dry.
- In a freezer bag, place the thyme in there. You can freeze just the leaves by removing them from the sprigs or freeze the entire herb.
- Remove as much air from the bag as you can and seal the bag tight.
- Label the freezer bag with a date and place it into the freezer.
Flash Freezing Fresh Thyme
Flash freezing thyme is a method to keep the herbs from freezing together while it’s frozen. You can easily take as much thyme as you need and place the rest back in the freezer.
- Clean all the thyme by putting them into a colander.
- Let them sit for about 10 minutes to drip dry.
- Using a paper towel, gently press on the thyme to remove any excess water.
- Pick the leaves from the stem of the herb and place them in a bowl.
- On a tray, place a sheet of wax paper.
- Lay the leaves on the tray keeping them evenly spaced from each other.
- Place the tray into the freezer for about 1-2 hours.
- Once it’s completely frozen, remove the tray from the freezer and transfer the leaves to a freezer bag.
- Press the bag to remove all the air from the bag and seal it tightly.
- Label the freezer bag with a date and place it in the freezer.
Freeze Thyme in Ice Cube Trays
Another method of prepping thyme is freezing them as ice cubes. This is great for adding flavors to soups and stews.
Freezing them as ice cubes can be done just with the thymes only or create your own bouquet garni mix. This consists of similar woody herbs such as rosemary and sage. All you need to do is take a couple of the ice cubes and drop them into the meal while it’s cooking. This will give your food an instant boost of flavors.
- Start by cleaning all the thymes you need to freeze.
- Remove the leaves from the stems.
- Roll up all the leaves together and finely dice the thymes.
- In the ice cube tray, spray a thin layer of oil. Alternatively, you can wipe the inside of the tray with oil using a paper towel.
- Add thymes to each slot of the tray. Fill it to the top of each slot.
- Add water to each slot leaving some of the leaves exposed.
- Using olive oil, top each slot until the thymes are submerged.
- Wrap the entire ice cube tray with a cling wrapper.
- Place it in the freezer and allow it to completely freeze.
- Once it’s frozen, transfer the thyme ice cubes into a freezer bag.
- Squeeze out as much air as you can from the bag and seal it tightly.
- Label the bag and place them back into the freezer.
Freezing Leftover Thyme
You cooked a delicious meal with thyme in it, but you have some leftovers. Instead of throwing the entire meal away, you can freeze it. If it’s soup or stew, you can freeze the entire meal in the freezer. When doing so, transfer the leftovers to a freezer bag or an airtight container.
Once you’re done filling the leftovers in the container, place them in the freezer. Be sure to eat it within 2 months for the best quality. After that time, it’s still safe to consume the leftovers, but the meal will lose some of its flavors and texture.
How Long Can You Freeze Thyme?
Like other herbs, thyme will last for a very long time in the freezer. This is due to their texture and high water content in their leaves.
However, the longer it stays in the freezer, their quality will start to decrease. For optimal quality, thymes should be used within 6 months.
After that time, the herb is still safe to eat and use for cooking, but the flavors will not be as fresh as it should.
How Do You Defrost Thyme?
With thymes, there’s really no need to defrost them. Due to their small size, they will thaw within minutes once it’s removed from the freezer.
For meals that are being cooked, simply remove the thymes from the freezer and add it to the food. If you’ve frozen the thyme with the sprigs, strip the leaves off and add to the meal.
If you’ve frozen thyme in an ice cube, remove the amount you need and place it directly into the meal while it’s being cooked.
Can Frozen Thyme Go Bad?
Thyme can go bad if it’s left in the freezer for too long. Like any other foods that are stored in the freezer for a prolonged time, it will start getting freezer burn. Proper storage will keep thyme fresh for up to six months. After that, the quality of the herb will slowly decrease over time.
After a year, if the thyme is still left in the freezer, more than likely, it will suffer from severe freezer burn, which will cause them to go bad. At this point, the thyme will lose all of its flavors and textures. Even after a year, it’s still safe to eat them, but since the herb has lost all of their nutrients, it’s best to just throw them away.
Another way frozen thyme can go bad is when it’s left to thaw for a prolonged time. Thyme thaw really quick and if it’s not used within an hour or so, it will start to become soggy.
If you need to thaw thyme, always place them into the refrigerator. In the fridge, the thyme will slowly defrost and not lose their flavor and texture. Also, it will give you some time before you can use them.
Can I freeze fresh thyme sprigs?
Yes, you can freeze the herb with the sprigs. Once it thaws or cooked, the leaves will fall off from the sprigs.
Is the thyme sprigs safe to eat?
The sprigs are safe to eat as it does not contain any toxins, but you should not eat them. Once they are cooked, it will become very hard and is a choking hazard.