Basil is one of the best herbs to grow in any space – whether you have a large home with a huge backyard garden or you live in a smaller apartment, basil can be grown very easily in beds or pots. I love having fresh basil because I use it every week for fresh basil pesto and there is no better feeling than walking into my back patio and picking up what I need.
Take advantage of prospering basil plants by freezing basil to use all year long. While it does require a little prep work before freezing, once frozen, you know you will have it available whenever the need arises.
Unlike drying basil, freezing helps you preserve more flavor and might be an easier avenue
Before you freeze your basil, you’ll nee to harvest your bail – and there are many methods for doing that. If you have a small plant as a home gardener, then you can harvest all season long. Or.. if you have a relatively large area, you can do a large harvest towards the end of the growing season.
If you are doing the latter, it’s best to do it before the weather changes so that the plant is not affected by the frost. Once you harvest your basil, wash the leaves in room temperature water and carefully lay them on a pnaper towel to let them dry.
Freezing Basil Leaves
Freezing basil leaves can be done two ways – this one being the least time intensive, and requires very little e xtra supplies. Once you pick your basil leaves and wash them off, let them dry on a clean kitchen towel or paper towel. Allow them to dry for a few hours, then remove the stems and take the leaves off to preserve the etnire leaf.
Find a medium size plastic container and line a paper towel on the bottom and between layers – then fill your container with layers of leaves, putting the paper towel in between as a layer. Make sure you push down the layers as you go, Remove as much air as possible as you go, and continue to push the leaves down as you add additional layers.
Let the air out of the container (at least as much as you can) before you freeze. When you are ready to use your basil, just remove the layers you need and then try to get as much air out as you can before putting back in the freezer. If you are without paper towels, you can also use ziploc bags.
Olive Oil and Basil Cubes
One of the best ways to preserve basil aside from freezing the leaves is to make ice cubes from basil and olive oil.
To do this, you’ll want to clean the basil leaves, and thoroughly dry them – then finely chop and throw the stems. You’ll divide the basil into the cavity of the ice cube tray – use 1 Tbsp per cavity, then top with olive oil and freeze.You can easily use for cooking by tossing the cubes into the skillet or adding to soup or sauce.
Do you grow fresh basil at home? If so, what’s your favorite basil recipe?