Freezing basil is actually quite simple and the best method to preserve the freshness and flavor may actually surprise you.
When you think of preserving basil, the first thing that might come to mind is drying it. Drying basil is a great way to preserve your harvest for later use, but there are certain herbs that are perfect candidates for freezing and basil is definitely one of them.
Freezing is much better at preserving freshness and flavor than drying. When it comes to freezing your basil, there are many methods to choose from. A couple of simple solutions that serve double-duty, allowing you to preserve your basil and create a wonderful ingredient for use in any number of future recipes is to make batches of pesto
or basil butter
to stock in your freezer.
If you would prefer to freeze your basil as is, to be able to use this heavenly herb in all of its natural glory, there are a couple of methods. They both work equally well so you can just choose the one that is most convenient for you.
Freezing Basil Stalks
The first method involves freezing whole stalks of basil with the leaves still on them. For this method you will want to pick your basil stalks at their peak of freshness and leave them intact. Bring a pot of water to a rapid boil. Using tongs, hold the basil stalks upside down and plunge it into the boiling water making sure that all leaves are submerged. Keep the leaves submerged only for a few seconds and then immediately plunge them into an ice water bath.
Remove the stalks from the ice bath after a few seconds and pat the entire stalk dry. Lay the stalks on a sheet of wax paper and roll the stalks inside the wax paper. Place the wax paper rolls inside a zip top freezer bag, label and freeze. You may want to divide your stalks into smaller portions so that you can just remove one roll at a time and keep the rest frozen until you need it.
Freezing Basil Leaves
The second method involves removing the leaves from the stems and thiis method is actually even easier than the first. Again, you will want to pick your basil at its peak of freshness. Remove the leaves from the stems and coarsely chop them. Divide the chopped leaves among the sections of ice cube trays. Use as many trays as you need or simply repeat the process with one tray.
Bring a pot of water to a boil and pour the boiling water over the basil leaves, filling the ice cube tray. Freeze immediately. Once the cubes are fully frozen you can remove them from the tray and place the cubes in a zip top freezer bag. At this point you can repeat the process if you need to.
The wonderful benefit to freezing basil this way is not only how quick and simple it is, but it is so easy to grab one or two of your basil cubes from the freezer and toss them into soups, stews and casseroles all throughout the winter. It is a fantastic way to bring that bright summer freshness to your winter meals.
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