If you’re wondering how to preserve basil (including basil freezing), you’ve come to the right place!
I am a big fan of basil fresh from the garden. It has an amazing aroma and taste. When added to your favorite dish fresh from the garden, it’s a real treat.
I love chopping it to AIP pizza crust, meatballs or just on a salad.
But basil doesn’t last long after harvest, so you need to have a plan for your basil. If you can’t use your basil right away, here are some basil preservation ideas:
Freeze the basil
Because basil is a fragile herb, it loses a lot of flavor when it dries (this also applies to mint, coriander, chives, parsley, etc.). Many gardeners choose to freeze it instead.
However, basil doesn’t look good when it’s frozen. It turns brownish, which is not as attractive as the original bright green color.
However, freezing is the easiest way to preserve basil and a good way to reserve a lot of basil quickly. Here are some options:
Freeze chopped basil in olive oil
Freeze the basil olive oil is a great way to get some of the basil’s color (though it still turns brown in the freezer). That’s how it’s done:
- Chop the basil by pulsing a few times in a food processor.
- Add olive oil until it forms a paste (I had about 8 cups of basil and used 1 to 1 1/2 cups olive oil).
- Place the paste in an ice cube tray to freeze.
- Collect the frozen cubes in a plastic bag and return to the freezer.
To use, just add a cube to your pan before cooking. You can also thaw that olive oil Basil mix before use. One cube corresponds to 2 tablespoons of fresh basil.
Freeze fresh basil in whole leaves
If you’re freezing something from the garden, it’s best to freeze the object spread out on a baking sheet first (and then put it in a freezer bag). This way the food doesn’t stick together.
But herbs defrost so quickly when taken out of the freezer that it’s difficult to put them in a bag. So instead I freeze herbs directly in the freezer bag. I put the herbs in the bag and let them freeze. If they clump, you can break off chunks for use in meals. It is simple enough.
Blanch the basil leaves
You can blanch basil leaves before you throw them in the freezer (or before you add them) olive oil or pesto). Many people do this to keep the color of the basil more vivid green. However, it also changes the taste of the basil.
I prefer the fresher taste of unblanched basil leaves and have nothing against a slightly darker green or brown color. If the color of the basil is important to you, you can blanch the leaves as follows:
- Remove stems.
- Place basil leaves in boiling water for 4-5 seconds.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the leaves from the boiling water and immediately immerse them in ice water.
- Dry the leaves completely before freezing.
Blanched basil leaves remain greener than unbalanced basil when frozen, but the taste is slightly different. It is up to you whether this step is worthwhile. I personally prefer less work whenever possible so that I don’t blanch the basil.
Dry the basil
While dry basil doesn’t retain all of its flavor, it’s a simple preservation method that doesn’t require electricity to store it.
Air drying is also a very easy way to dry basil. You can hang up dry basil when harvesting the whole plants, but a drying sieve is easiest for single leaves. Here are the basic steps:
- Rinse the leaves under cold water and dab them dry with paper towels or a tea towel.
- Place the sheets in a layer on the drying sieve.
- Cover with a second dryer or porous cloth.
- Let dry for 7-10 days (until the leaves are crispy).
Learn about all of the drying methods (including using a dehydrator or oven) that you can use to preserve herbs.
Use dry basil in any recipe that requires fresh (use 1 teaspoon dry for every tablespoon fresh).
How to preserve basil in salt
Another option for preserving basil is salt. This is a great way to preserve leafy herbs like basil, coriander, parsley, etc.
- Wash and dry your herbs completely.
- Place the ingredients with 4 parts of basil and 1 part of salt in a food processor.
- Training impulse.
- Optional: lay out to dry on a baking sheet in the sun (this will keep the mixture a little longer).
This herbal salt will keep in the fridge for at least 6 months (longer if you dry it afterwards). To use, simply replace the salt in a recipe with this herbal salt.
How to preserve basil in honey
You can infuse basil in honey for longer storage. When using fresh basil, the best way to heat the honey is to avoid bacterial growth. But heating means that raw honey will no longer be raw (and some of these benefits will no longer be included).
You can also infuse honey with dried herbs without heat. However, if your basil has already dried, you may not want to keep it a second time.
I have never tried this herb preservation method, but I would choose the heated version because it involves fewer steps.
How to infuse honey with basil:
- Add 1 cup raw honey and ½ cup basil (whole leaves or chopped) in a saucepan.
- Heat slowly on medium or medium heat until the honey begins to bubble.
- Stir to incorporate honey and herbs.
- Switch off and let cool.
- Repeat this process 2-3 times (heating and cooling the honey) until it has the taste of basil to your liking.
Basil honey can be used in any recipe that is said to have a sweet and savory taste. Cheese dishes, Italian dishes, and even pizza are great ways to use them.
How to preserve basil in vinegar
Pouring basil in vinegar is another way to preserve it. Here are the basic steps:
- Place ¼ cup of fresh basil leaves in a 1 liter mason jar.
- Cover with about 2 cups of vinegar (I like apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar).
- Let rest in a sunny window for 2-4 weeks.
- Strain herbs from the vinegar.
- Store your infused vinegar in a cool place.
It should take several months in a root cellar to 6 months if it is stored in the refrigerator. Basil vinegar can be used for salad dressings, marinades, pan dishes or to drizzle roasted vegetables or meat.
How to make basil olive oil
Make herbs infused olive oil is easy and a great way to consume basil. Infuse basil olive oil is very similar to the basil vinegar recipe above. Here are the full instructions for pouring herbs into oil.
Basil preservation recipes
If you have no way of preserving basil, but still don’t want to waste it, you should add it to some dishes or sauces and preserve them instead. Here are a few ideas:
What is your favorite way to preserve basil?
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