Preserving fresh basil for recipes all year around couldn’t be easier by blanching and freezing that fresh flavor into easily useable freezer bags. Ready for sauces, pasta salads, and all your fresh basil recipes all year long!
Basil, basil, basil.. so much basil! Towards the end of the gardening season there is always a scramble to get everything processed before the first freeze so none of those precious garden vegetables are wasted. I had always struggled to find a way to preserve fresh basil to last the rest of the year. Keeping that fresh, fragrant, delicious herb.. fresh and fragrant, and delicious all year is not something that I ever thought was possible without going to the store and paying $6 for a small box of fresh basil.
I used to dry it, but never found it was as flavorful as fresh basil. Last year I discovered that blanching and freezing fresh basil keeps that wonderful basil flavor intact. This method can be utilized in many recipes that fresh basil is called for. Some dishes include: spaghetti, pasta salads, and much more!
STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS FOR FREEZING FRESH BASIL
After you have harvested all the basil that you want to process (I usually do this towards the end of the season, because I utilize the basil fresh off my plants throughout the summer),
you need to get a large pot of water boiling and your ice bath ready. To create your ice bath, you will need to get a large mixing bowl and fill it about a 1/4 full of ice, topping it off with about half that amount of water.
- I like to take all of my basil leaves off the stem prior to blanching to decrease steps after cooling.
To blanch the basil, dump a large amount of trimmed leaves in your boiling water, cooking until just wilted. This will only take maybe 5 -10 seconds.
Immediately scoop the leaves and transfer to your ice bath for cooling.
- Your leaves will turn a beautiful bright green color once they enter the hot water and will keep that color by icing them to stop the cooking process.
It will not take long to cool the basil, after cooling you can transfer them to a drying rack lined with paper towels to soak up some of the water.
- I put mine over a half sheet pan to catch the drips. Depending on how much basil you have to process, you will have to do this in several batches.
- I like to package each batch as I go, however if you would like to, you can complete the blanching process on all of your bail before moving onto drying and packaging.
- In the batch pictured, I didn’t remove the stems first. Instead I used my kitchen sheers to snip off all the leaves before I finished drying them. You can do it either way, if you snip the stems prior to blanching, you can cut out this step all together.
After you have let the stems dry off for a minute, transfer them to a clean kitchen towel and roll it up to squeeze out any excess water.
They will come out nice and dry, flat, and ready to package!
The trick to packaging, making them easy to use all year long, is to freeze in a nice thin, flat layer in freezer ziplock bags.
- I like to use quart size because they are compact and stackable in the freezer. When you want to use some you can just break off a section and chop it up for your recipe.
- Making sure it is in a thin layer in the bags is very important. This prevents you from having to defrost a big lump of basil every time you want to use it. Keeping it thin assure that you can just break off a section without utilizing the entire bag!
And voila! All that basil is nice and neat and ready for those yummy, basil recipes all winter long! This method has really decreased my off season costs on buying fresh basil, and my family loves it just the same!
Freezing Fresh Basil
- Large pot
- two large mixing bowls
- kitchen sheers
- cutting board
- kitchen tongs
- drying rack
- half-sheet pan
- Fresh Basil
- Fill a large pot partially with water, turning on medium-high heat until boiling.
- While waiting for water to boil, trim basil leaves off of stems and place in a bowl ready to blanch.
- Create ice bath in large bowl by adding a fair amount of ice and add half as much water as ice.
- In batches, place basil leaves in boiling water to blanch for 5-10 seconds or until leaves just start to wilt.
- Immediately transfer to ice bath.
- Transfer leaves from ice bath to drying rack on a half-sheet pan lined with several paper towels.
- Blanch all basil leaves as directed above.
- Transfer leaves to a dry kitchen towel in a single layer, roll up and lightly squeeze to dry leaves. You can also do this in batches.
- Place dried leaves in a thin, single layer, inside a quart size freezer bag. Press all air out of bag, keeping leaves in a flat layer. Freeze for future use.
- When ready to use, break off desired amount of basil from frozen sheet of leaves. Use in desired recipe in place of fresh basil.