There’s more than one way to Preserve Fresh Basil, in fact I will show you how to do it using five different ways. All simple and easy. Choose one or two or do them all!
There’s nothing like fresh herbs especially basil. But as we head into the cool weather of Fall and the cold of Winter, all that lovely fresh basil we have growing outside will not survive the cold weather. So how do you preserve it?
How to store basil in the freezer
First you need to clean and dry the leaves. Then remove the stems, rinse the leaves, and drain in a colander, then move the leaves onto a clean tea towel, in a single layer, and let them dry out.
When the leaves are completely dry, place them on a cookie sheet, again single layer and place in the freezer for about two hours. Once they are frozen, place the leaves in a freezer safe container or bag. Careful not to over pack them or they will lose their shape. When needed you can cut a frozen slice and use in your favourite recipes. They will keep for up to four to six months.
Another way to freeze basil is to make Pesto. To make fresh basil pesto ready for the freezer all you need is a blender or food processor, the fresh basil, olive oil and salt. Blend the ingredients until it’s pulpy. Then transfer the mixture into small freezer safe containers, be sure to add a little olive oil to cover the pest.
Once you decide to use the pesto, thaw it, place it into the food processor and add the remaining ingredients from the recipe.
How to preserve it in oil
Once again clean the leaves and let them dry completely as above. Then place them in a glass container (mason jar) and add salt 1-2 teaspoons, shake the jar to make sure all the leaves are salted. Fill the container with olive oil making sure to cover the leaves, close the jar and place it in the refrigerator.
This way the leaves will keep for several months in the fridge. Remove the leaves when needed. Keep the remaining leaves always topped with olive oil. There is no need to rinse the leaves, just use as is. And be sure to use the oil as well, after all that time it will be flavourful and delicious.
How to preserve basil in salt
Clean and dry the leaves, in a deep container with a lid, place a half inch of salt on the bottom, add a layer of basil leaves sprinkle with salt, press down gently but try not to break the leaves. Continue until you reach the top of the container. Then cover and shake the container so that all the leaves are covered well in salt, if needed add more salt.
Place the container in a cool dry area, remove the leaves when needed. Be sure there is enough salt when you have removed any leaves. If conserved properly it will keep for up to 6 months.
Air Drying the leaves
In order to dry the leaves you need to pick the stems before they start to flower. Remove the leaves but be sure to leave about a 3/4 inch or 2 cm stem, again rinse well to remove any dirt or dust. Place the leaves single layer on a clean tea towel and place another on top, gently pat to dry. They must be completely dry or mould could develop while air drying, and then of course they will need to be thrown out.
Group the leaves together in bunches, tying them together by the stem, hang the bunches on a hook and leave them to dry in a room where there is sunlight and air circulation. This process should take about two weeks for the basil to completely dry. Then remove the leaves from the hook and crumble the leaves with your fingers. Place in a jar and use when needed.
Delicious Basil Recipes
I hope if you are like me and have one of the most aromatic herbs, Basil, to preserve one or more of these methods will help you preserve summer to use during the winter months.