Basil: the quintessential smell of summer around here! If only there was a way to preserve it…
Oh, but there is!
And I’m not talking about basil-scented soap and basil hand lotion. I can’t quite decide if these products are a good way to get a basil fix, or completely weird?! While I agree that there are quite a few foods that fall under both the categories of: things I want to eat, and things I want to rub all over my body… I’m not sure basil is one of these.
My “new” technique for freezing basil has the best of everything- it is quick, very easy, makes no dirty dishes, won’t take up a ton of freezer room, and can tackle large quantities of basil with no problem. The flavor does change just a tiny amount with freezing, but it has absolutely more fresh basil taste than other method I’ve used.
You might have tried freezing basil in ice cube trays filled with olive oil. Or maybe you just dry your basil every year (I do). But I think both of these ways fall a little flat.
First of all, dried basil is a completely different animal. It has its purpose, certainly, but there is no comparison to fresh at all.
I will tell you why I don’t like to freeze basil in ice cube trays- it’s too much oil for what I usually want to use it for. I almost always don’t want to throw a whole cube of olive oil into what I’m making.
For the rest of this story you should know that I’m a bit of a know-it-all… so when my mom told me about this new way she heard about to freeze basil, I turned my nose up a bit. That couldn’t possibly work well! I’d be better off trying the basil-scented hand soap, I thought.
And then I was staring down an entire garden row of basil and facing the impending fall freeze. I had already dried more basil than three families would use in a year, but I wasn’t ready to give up that fresh basil flavor for the year yet! So I tried it. And this winter I’ve been eating my words…
And fresh-tasting basil! Thanks mom!
Here’s why it works so well: the technique is basically to ever-so-lightly coat the basil leaves with oil, squish them together in a bag and freeze. The oil does two things: 1. the light coating greatly protects the leaves from any freezer burn- they will last well into next basil season this way, and 2. it allows you to easily break off whatever size chunk you need.
A New Way To Preserve Fresh Basil (Freeze)
If you haven’t already, pluck the basil leaves from the plant stems. Prepare them how you normally would for use. I always try to pick the cleanest leaves for this so I don’t have to wash them. If you must wash your basil leaves you will need to let them dry very well before proceeding, like in a salad and herb spinner.
Take a freezer bag- I’ll assume you are using a gallon size. You must use a freezer bag (regular storage zip top bags will not keep your frozen goods safe!). And it really should be a bag. This won’t work as good in hard-sided containers.
For every 3 cups of fresh basil use 1 Tbs of oil. Approximately anyways, this ain’t rocket science.
Put three cups of lightly-packed basil leaves in the bottom of your bag and drizzle one tablespoon of oil over top. Use your hand to very gently toss and fluff the leaves until they are all nicely coated- this isn’t a “massaging,” you don’t want to bruise the leaves.
Add three more cups of basil leaves on top of the previous, drizzle on another tablespoon of oil, and again use your hand to toss the leaves until all coated. This is the most I like to put in one bag, but you can probably fit a little more if you’d like.
Gently press the basil all together, press the bag flat on the counter, and squeeze all of the air out of it.
I have a special technique for this that my family makes fun of me for. We’re all friends here, so I’ll share it with you. With the zip top facing away from me, and with top closed but except for about and inch, I lean my upper body onto the counter and over the bag, pressing the bag flat with my chest- this give me two free hands to work the zip top. And now you know one of my deepest, darkest secrets. But it works, I’m telling you!
Store in the freezer, and simply break off a chunk of basil whenever you need some! It starts to thaw instantly in your hand. The flavor is very much like fresh basil, but the texture is a little… wilty. Although the flavor is superb, I think it is still best used in something cooked, or where the texture would disappear into the dish.
And by the way, you can use this technique for other soft herbs as well! Try oregano or marjoram, parsley and mint.
Now go ahead and plant that whole entire packet of basil seeds!
Want more from the homestead?
This post may contain affiliate links, which means that if you click through them and end up purchasing an item (any item, not necessarily the one I recommended even!) I may receive monetary or other compensation. The price you pay is unaffected by using this link, and buying stuff you were going to get anyways through an affiliate link is a great way to support your favorite blogger and fellow homesteader! Thanks!