If you have more basil in your garden than you can use when it's fresh, the answer is to pop it in the freezer and have the pleasure of using fresh basil all year long. Here are three different ways to freeze it for year-round use.
Wash and Freeze
Wash and dry the basil leaves. Then discard the stems. Spread them out on a cookie sheet and flash freeze them. Transfer the frozen basil to freezer bags and use them as needed.
Blanch and Freeze
Blanch washed basil leaves for 15 seconds and plunge them into ice water to stop the cooking process. Dry the leaves thoroughly and then flash freeze and transfer to freezer bags as described in option 1.
Chop and Freeze
Use a food processor to coarsely chop washed basil leaves. Add a drizzle of olive oil and pulse to lightly coat the leaves with oil; this will keep the basil from turning black in the freezer. Scoop the resulting mixture into ice cube trays and freeze. Transfer the finished cubes to freezer bags and use as needed. One cube is usually the equivalent of about two tablespoons of fresh basil. Measure your ice cube tray to figure out how much yours holds.
If you want bigger cubes, use a two-inch cube ice cube tray. Each cube will hold about a half cup of basil. It's also a great size for freezing leftover broth, wine, and buttermilk.
- Basil tends to turn black when it's frozen. If maintaining that bright green color is important to you, use option 3.
- Oil should only be added to basil if it will be frozen. Storing basil in oil, either in the refrigerator or at room temperature, is a botulism risk.
- If you're planning to use your basil in heated dishes, add your frozen basil directly to the pot. There's no need to thaw it first.
More Uses for Basil
Dry some of the basil from your garden, so you won't have to buy dried basil at the grocery store. You can use a dehydrator or a low-temp oven to dry it quickly, but if you aren't in a hurry, just hang small bunches of basil upside down in a warm, dry room and allow it to air-dry. It might take a couple of weeks, but if you already have lots of fresh basil at your disposal, it'll probably be a while before you even need it. Store your dried basil in an air-tight container in your pantry. Be sure to label it. All of those little jars of home-dried herbs start to look the same after a while. Dried basil right from your garden, tied with a cute ribbon, makes a thoughtful gift for friends.