If you have a surplus of fresh basil leaves from the store and want to preserve them for future use, freezing is a great option. In this article, we will discuss different methods for freezing basil so that you can enjoy its flavor for longer.
Whether you want to freeze the basil leaves to use them later in sauces, salads, pasta, or drinks, we will provide step-by-step instructions to help you freeze your basil in the best way possible.
How to freeze basil
When freezing fresh basil leaves, you’ll need to take a few steps to preserve their flavor and texture. Because basil is delicate and tends to darken when cut, it’s best to blanch it briefly in boiling water before freezing. This will help to preserve its color and flavor.
Keep in mind that freezing fresh basil will alter its texture, so it’s best to use it in cooked dishes rather than as a garnish. Despite these changes, frozen basil can still add flavor to your dishes.
There are several methods you can use to freeze basil, depending on how you want to use it in your cooking. Here are a few options:
Freezing whole basil leaves
The first method is to simply freeze the whole basil leaves. If you are pressed for time, this method is the fastest but not the most efficient: It is best for using basil in cooked dishes, such as soups or stews, where the texture of the leaves won’t matter.
- Start by sorting your basil and removing any damaged leaves. Wash the leaves thoroughly under cold water, drain them and pat them dry with a paper towel.
- Next, line the leaves on a baking sheet without overlapping and flash freeze for at least 30 minutes, or until each leaf is frozen.
- Once the leaves are frozen, transfer them to a resealable plastic bag or an airtight container. You can use multiple freezer bags if you want to freeze individual portions.
- Seal the freezer bag tightly, pushing out as much air as possible.
- Label the freezer bag with the date and contents, then put the basil in the freezer and store it.
To preserve the most flavor and color, blanch the basil leaves in boiling water for a few seconds, then plunge them into an ice water bath to cool. Pat the leaves dry with a paper towel, then freeze them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Once they’re frozen, transfer them to a freezer-safe container or bag.
Freezing basil in ice cube trays:
Another option is to freeze the basil in ice cube trays. This method is great if you plan on using basil in drinks or smoothies or adding it to soups or sauces. If you have a little time on your hands and want to freeze your basil the best way possible, here’s the approach to take:
- Start by washing your basil and removing any damaged leaves. Drain it and pat dry.
- Tear off the leaves and discard the stems. You can cut or chop the leaves if you wish.
- Next, get an ice cube tray. Ideally, use an ice cube tray with large compartments. Put the basil leaves in each compartment. It is not essential to cut the leaves; just tamp them down.
- Pour a drizzle of olive oil into each compartment to completely cover the basil leaves. Do not fill to the brim as the oil will expand slightly from the cold. You can also use water instead of olive oil.
- Wrap the ice cube tray with plastic wrap and put it in the freezer for a few hours.
- Once the basil ice cubes are frozen, transfer them to a resealable freezer bag. Seal the freezer bag tightly, pushing out as much air as possible.
- Label the freezer bag with the date and contents, then return the basil ice cubes to the freezer.
If you freeze your basil as ice cubes, it will be better protected from freezer burn.
Freezing basil in olive oil:
The third method is to freeze the basil in olive oil. To do this, puree the basil leaves and add a little olive oil. Pour the mixture into containers of your choice and place in the freezer. This method is great for using the basil in pesto as it preserves the aroma of the basil .
Can I freeze fresh basil without blanching?
Yes, you can freeze fresh basil without blanching it first. Blanching is a process where you briefly boil the basil leaves in water to kill any bacteria and enzymes that could decompose the herb and cause it to spoil.
While blanching is a good way to preserve the color and flavor of the basil, it’s not necessary when freezing the herb. When you freeze basil, the freezing process itself will kill any bacteria, so you can simply wash the basil leaves and then pat them dry before freezing. The enzymes, however, will survive in the freezer and may cause your basil to darken.
If you want to use the basil as a pesto, you can make the pesto first, then freeze it in an ice cube tray. Once the pesto cubes are frozen, transfer them to a freezer-safe container or bag.
Is it better to freeze basil or dry it?
It’s generally better to freeze basil because freezing preserves the flavor and aroma of the herb better than drying it. When you dry basil, the heat and air exposure cause the herb to lose much of its flavor and aroma. Plus, frozen basil is easier to use than dried basil because it’s already chopped and ready to use in recipes. You can simply add it to your dish without having to rehydrate it first.
How long will fresh basil last in the freezer?
Frozen basil will last for 4 to 6 months in the freezer, but it’s best to use it within the first few months for the best flavor and quality. To extend its shelf life, you can place the frozen basil in an airtight container or bag to prevent freezer burn.
Whichever method you choose, it’s important to label the container or bag with the date you froze the basil so you know how long it has been in the freezer. The longer you leave it in the freezer, the more the flavor and texture are likely to deteriorate.
Do you have to thaw basil?
When you’re ready to use the frozen basil, you do not need to thaw it. If you froze it as whole leaves in a freezer bag, you can incorporate the leaves as is into your dish.
If you froze your basil as ice cubes, just add an ice cube or two to your pesto, stew, curry, sauce, or soup and allow it to melt fully for a minute or two. Nothing’s easier.
In conclusion, there are several different ways to freeze basil, including freezing the whole leaves, freezing the leaves in ice cube trays, and freezing the leaves in olive oil. Whichever method you choose, be sure to label the container or bag with the date and type of herb, and use the frozen basil within a few months for the best flavor and quality.