Thursday, June 7, 2012

Three Ways to Preserve Basil

I just love basil.  It is hands down my favorite herb.  I use it in everything from rices to chicken to sauteed squash to delightful little wheat bread, mozarella, and tomato sandwiches I make myself for lunch.

There are three ways I preserve the basil I grow in my garden.  Regardless of how you want to preserve, you need to harvest the basil with sharp scissors or garden shears.  Be sure not to cut it too low so that it will continue to grow and produce more leaves.

Method 1:  Freezing

Once you've clipped your basil, clip off the individual leaves.  Bring a pot of water to a boil, and dip each basil leaf into the water for 3-5 seconds.  This is called blanching.

Prepare an ice tray of water.  As you blance each leaf (or pieces of leaves if they are too large to fit in each section), place them, completely submerged, in each section).

Freeze them as you would ice cubes and dump them in a freezer bag.  They're then ready to thaw and use in soups and stews.

Method 2: Drying

This is my second-favorite way to preserve basil because it's so quick and easy and allows a lot of hands-free time.

Prepare a cookie or baking sheet with a wire rack.  It's important that the leaves are able to "breathe."  Arrange them on the drying rack as shown below.

Set your oven to its lowest setting and "bake" your basil for five minutes.  Turn your oven off, and allow the basil to continue to bake until it's completely dry.  You can them crumble it into jars.  Repeat....and repeat.

Method 3: Basil Butter

Method 3 is my absolute favorite method for preserving basil.  It's also the one with only one picture (go figure!).  That's ok though, because it's beyond simple. 

Set your butter out a few hours ahead of time to let it soften to room temperature.  It's much easier to work with.  Process it in a food processor, and then add the desired amount of fresh basil leaves.  Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a cookie sheet, and freeze (or refrigerate) for several hours to firm it up.  Like so...

I then take all my delicious frozen basil dollops, put them in a freezer bag, and use them in everything all winter long.  I throw a few chunks of basil butter in rice, spaghetti, chicken name it.  It tastes just as fresh as it did the day I prepared it.  Really!

Now's the time.  Go out and grab your basil!


  1. NOW I MUST GO "EAT BASIL PESTO"!!! Oh Yes, I'm a fellow Basil Addict! I don't know if I could live without it! Thank you so much for the tips...
    OH did you know that OUR CARS get hot enough in the summer to DRY HERBS, FLOWERS etc...I found this out by mistake when I left flowers on my dash and the next day they were PERFECT DRIED FLOWERS. and the car smelled like Heaven...
    Have a wonderful week,

  2. Yumm basil butter!! Mine is just starting to really grow.


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