Preserving Basil (Canning Week)

Preserving Basil, Freezing basil in olive oil, the saucy southerner

It’s Day Four of Canning Week on the site and today I’m not canning. Instead I’ll be telling you the simplest way to Freeze Basil to preserve that fresh herb flavor for use in sauces, soups, stews, salad dressings, or even to toss with pasta. 

That photo of the basket of basil sitting beneath a section of my Wee Kitchen Garden is one of my favorites from this year. The garden pick of the girl with her arms outstretched with joy is precisely how I feel every single time I visit the garden. The delight I take and the peace and pleasure of gardening, even on the small-scale of the Wee Kitchen Garden, is immeasurable.

Preserving the fruits of that labor of love, through canning and freezing, is another of the joys of gardening. And basil is one of the easiest herbs to preserve for future use! While basil is a tender herb, in that the leaves will bruise easily, the flavor of basil (if not the gorgeous color) is so simple to save.

For years now, what I have done to preserve the basil from my garden is to chop it, mix it with olive oil and freeze it using my mini muffin tins. Ice cube trays would work for this project also.

Normally, I’m pretty good about keeping the bloom heads clipped off my basil. I was so busy canning in the three weeks leading up to this harvest, I had some pretty long bloom heads. Clipping the blooms ensures that the basil will continue to grow. Once the plants bloom, they have done their job and they will die. I caught these just in time. I only harvested about half way down my plants; they will keep growing now that the tops have been taken out.

After harvesting the basil, it’s important to wash it and to pick the leaves from the stems, removing bloom heads too.

Preserving Basil, Freezing basil, basil, olive oil, the saucy southerner

I run the leaves through my salad spinner to remove excess water, but you could pat yours dry with a towel if you don’t have a salad spinner.

Preserving Basil, Freezing basil in olive oil, the saucy southerner

Then, just assemble your tools. You’ll need:

  • Food Processor
  • Mini Muffin Tins (or Ice Cube Trays)
  • Olive oil (I preserve my basil in Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, but use what you like best.)
  • Basil Leaves (picked from stems, washed and dried)

Using the blade attachment, pack the bowl of the food processor with basil leaves and turn it on. As the basil is chopped, drizzle in just enough olive oil to coat the leaves. Turn off the processor, remove the blade and scoop the mixture into the mini muffin tins.

Preserving Basil, Freezing basil in olive oil, the saucy southerner

Because I had so much basil, I had to process it in batches.

Preserving Basil, Freezing basil in olive oil, the saucy southerner

Once in the mini muffin tins, the basil is ready for the freezer. Just a couple of hours and the basil should be frozen. Remove the basil from the tins, place into freezer bags, or containers and return to the freezer for future use. I put six of the basil disks in a bag and vacuum seal them. When I need to use basil, I’ll open a bag, remove a disk and use it for whatever application I need.

The basil disks can go frozen into soups, stews and sauces. I thaw them if I’m using them in salad dressings, or if I’m tossing them with pasta. You can thaw them and make fresh pesto with them, or you can make pesto and freeze it already prepared, using this same method.

This method of preserving basil is great because you’ll have easy access to as little, or as much, as you need for a recipe.

I hope you’ll try this with your basil!

P~

About P ~ The Saucy Southerner

I started cooking when I was ten years old. For me, the process of cooking, from inception of a dish, to the execution, to the washing of the pots is sheer delight. I am now retired from a business I still own, in partnership with my husband. I used to work six days a week and still cook every night. Now, I'm gardening, still cooking, always having fun and hoping to share my joy with you. Thank you for reading...and commenting! P~
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