The curry tree itself is native to Asia, specifically India. This is why curry leaves are more commonly associated with Indian cuisine. The leaves are not stand-alone ingredients but make a massive difference to the underlying flavour of a curry.
Curry leaves are not cheap in UK supermarkets as they are a problematic ingredient to transport from India and other curry tree native countries successfully.
Luckily, it is possible to grow your own curry leaves in the UK, but only when the weather is hot enough. If you want fresh curry leaves outside of the summer months, then buying them in bulk and freezing them is the best way forward.
To freeze curry leaves, once they are clean and dry, pop them into a freezer bag with a resealable top and freeze. You can then grab a leaf or two as and when you need them.
How to Freeze Curry Leaves
Curry leaves are not just an easy herb to cook with but are also one of the easiest herbs to freeze.
You will have to spend some time drying out the curry leaves before you freeze them. However, for the most part, preparing curry leaves to freeze well is simple:
How to Freeze Fresh Curry Leaves
Curry leaves you have grown yourself are the best curry leaves to freeze simply because they are likely to keep fresher for longer. But both homegrown and store-bought curry leaves can be frozen following this method:
- Cut The Stems
Before preparing the curry leaves to freeze, cut off any sharp stems from the leaf. This is mostly a precaution to stop the sharp stems from piercing the freezer bag you will store the leaves in.
- Wash The Leaves
No matter how you have acquired your curry leaves, you will need to give them a good wash using cold water to remove any leftover dirt.
- Dry The Leaves
After the leaves have been properly washed, use some kitchen roll or a salad spinner to remove as much of the moisture as possible.
- Dry Again
No matter how thoroughly you try to dry your curry leaves, they will still have some moisture in the leaves themselves. Place the leaves spaced on a baking tray or plate and cover them with a clean, dry tea towel. Then leave the leaves somewhere dry for 1-2 days to properly dry out.
- Bag Them Up
Using a large freezer bag, carefully place in your now dried curry leaves. Do your best to be gentle so that they do not break.
- Seal The Bag
Push as much air as possible out of the bag and securely seal it.
- Double Bag
Just using one freezer bag will not contain the odour of the curry leaves. You will need to place the freezer bag into another freezer/ plastic bag to help prevent the smell of curry from seeping into the rest of your freezer.
Curry leaves are very to mix up with other leafy herbs like bay leaves, so make sure to label the leaves before you freeze them.
All that is left to do is carefully place the bagged curry leaves into the freezer, putting them somewhere that they won’t get squashed or broken.
You can leave the curry leaves in your freezer for up to 1 year.
The last thing you want to do is leave curry leaves to defrost. Their unique flavour will dilute and will not add anything to your dish. Instead, take the curry leaves out of the freezer when needed and put them straight into the dish you are cooking.
How to Freeze Curry Leaves Successfully
Despite the basic method of freezing curry leaves being straightforward to follow, the method can be time-consuming, mainly because of how dry the leaves need to be before you can freeze them.
The last thing you want to do is make an avoidable mistake when freezing your curry leaves and realise your time was wasted when it comes to using the leaves later down the line.
So, here are a few tips you can keep in mind when freezing curry leaves:
- Do Not Scrub The Leaves – It can be tempting to scrub away any dirt from the leaves as you clean them. But it would be best if you washed the leaves gently. Use your fingers to carefully rub away the dirt under cold water only.
- Dryer Is Better – The dryer you get your curry leaves after you wash them, the better they will freeze, as there will not be enough excess water to make the leaves soggy or dilute their flavour.
- Use High-Quality Bags – Curry leaves are highly pungent. Their odour can stick to other food in your freezer and give it an odd curry taste if the leaves are not properly bagged. Avoid this by using thick, high-quality freezer bags to bag your curry leaves.
Do Curry Leaves Freeze Well?
Curry leaves are easy enough to freeze and can freeze well. So long as you keep in mind how pungent the leaves are and the effect that can have on the other frozen food in your freezer.
However, the longer you leave the curry leaves to freeze, the higher the chance that they will start to lose their impactful flavour.
Freezing Curry Leaves FAQs
Do you still have questions about freezing curry leaves? Then check these common FAQs out:
Curry leaves are often bought dried which is to preserve their shelf life. If kept in a dark, cool cupboard in an airtight container, they will keep for up to 12 months. Therefore, there is no point freezing dried curry leaves.
Yes, curry leaves do not need to be defrosted. Instead, grab a leaf and pop it into the pan when you normally would and it’ll (almost) instantly defrost.
Acacia may be a freelance writer by day, but they are a food fanatic by night. They are always trying out new recipes or finding different ways to elevate classical dishes. But their biggest culinary aim is to educate others on the basics of the kitchen so that they too can enjoy delicious food.