Can you freeze basil? Basil is a culinary herb used both fresh and dried. It plays a major role in some cuisines. Is there anything (besides drying it) you can do to preserve it if you’ve got more basil than you can use at a time? Or is there a way to save some basil for the winter months? Fortunately enough, you can freeze fresh basil with good results. It’s also pretty easy to do that.
Freezing basil – how to
There are a few methods how you can freeze basil. I’ll discuss them in details. In every case you should start off by washing basil leaves and discarding any stems. Make sure every leaf is green, other leaves should be thrown away. Let leaves dry thoroughly.
Image used under Creative Commons from Amanda Slater
Freezing whole leaves
If you’d like to freeze whole leaves, there are a few options for you. Once the leaves are dry, they’re basically ready to be frozen for the long term, but freezing them without any further preparation won’t give you best results. Take note that basil leaves after thawing won’t be as bright green as they’re before freezing. There are a least two things you can do to prepare the leaves for freezing for the long term.
Blanching is the first thing you can do to better prepare basil leaves for freezing. It helps with preserving natural color and taste when the herb is frozen. You simply need to place basil leaves in boiling water for a short period of time (15 seconds should do the trick) and then quickly cool the leaves down. A pot or sink of ice water is of a great help when it comes to cooling the leaves. After that you should dry the leaves. Blanching is now complete. Please remember that blanching is optional.
Pre-freezing (or flash-freezing) is another way to prepare the herb for long term freezing. It’s pretty simple to perform. Place the leaves individually on a cookie sheet or a tray and put it into the freezer for a few hours to quickly freeze the leaves. Once frozen, flash-freezing is done – you can take the tray out of the freezer. The leaves should endure the process of freezing and thawing better than without it.
Now it’s time to put the leaves into the freezer for the long term. You just need to transfer the leaves into freezer bags. Remember to push out as much air a you can. Instead of pushing it out, you can try to suck it out of the bag using a straw.
Freezing chopped basil
Basil leaves can be chopped using a food processor, a blender or simply using a knife. Of course if you want to, you can freeze chopped basil following the same steps as in the case of freezing whole leaves. There is, however, another way to freeze basil and it’s used often when people want to preserve basil’s fresh look, green color and taste.
Once the basil is chopped, take an ice-cube tray and put some chopped basil into each little spot. Now it’s time to add some water or oil to cover the herb. If you wish to, you can add water or oil while chopping, it’s up to you. Once done, put the ice-cube tray into the freezer and let little ice-cubes form. Once frozen, take the tray out of the freezer and transfer the cubes into a freezer bag. The chopped basil is ready to be frozen for the long term.
Word of caution. If you’ve decided to freeze basil in oil, add oil directly before freezing. Storing basil in oil (both in the fridge and in room temperature) is a botulism risk.
Freezing basil leaves – useful information
Before putting the bag into the freezer, remember to date and label it. To get the best quality, you should use the frozen basil within 6 months from freezing it. If you’re using it in a cooked dish, you can add frozen basil directly to your dish.
As you can see, you can freeze basil and there’s at least a few ways how you can to this successfully.