Can You Freeze Basil?
Basil, also known as Ocimum basilicum, is a traditional herb in almost every household. Many housewives might be wondering how to freeze basil for long-term use. Well, we are here to help you through.
Although sweet basil finds the most use in many Italian recipes, another variety of basil is predominantly available in almost every Indian home. It has a distinct aroma that is perfect for seasoning or garnishing any dish.
Basils are often used to garnish meat dishes or as dried powder in different recipes. It is a natural detoxifying agent that you can cultivate in your backyard. It has got healing properties like anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial, etc. You can find below three ways to freeze basil effectively.
Methods to Freeze Basil
Originally basil belongs to the same family as mint and has a strong flavor similar to mint leaves. These green tender herbs have a mild spicy flavor that resonates best with lemons and tomatoes. Check out these three easy methods to store your herbs.
1. Directly Freeze Basil Leaves
As the name suggests, this method involves direct freezing of the basil leaves. So, if you accidentally buy extra bunches of basil or have some leftovers you can directly freeze them. This method works well for basil herbs with stems on.
Start by washing basil leaves clean and drying them by pressing them under a paper towel. Allow the leaves to air dry for some time. Once the leaves are nicely dry, you can transfer them to a baking tray for a flash-freezing session of 3 hours.
As soon as three hours lapse, remove the basil leaves from the tray and shift them to ziplock bags. Add labels to these bags and move them into the freezer. This method of directly freezing basil leaves is effective for six months.
2. Blanching and Freezing Basil
Again, blanching and freezing, the name of the process sum up itself. So here’s what you have to do to freeze basil via the blanching method. Start by separating basil leaves from the stem and wash them clean.
In a pan, boil sufficient water so that all the leaves can dip in it. As the water starts to boil, drop in the basil leaves and cook for around 4 minutes. Then, turn off the flame and remove the basil leaves with a strainer and transfer them into chilled ice water.
Allow them to sit in ice water for a few minutes. Now dry the basil leaves by laying flat on a cloth and patting them dry. Then follow the flash freezing method as described in the earlier method of freezing basil.
Then transfer the frozen basil leaves into airtight bags, add labels and freeze for later use. This method might take some time but is the most effective method to prevent basil leaves from going bad.
3. Ice Cube Method to freeze basil
Basil leaves have a soothing aroma which makes them highly likable in different kinds of Thai, Italian, and European food. Sometimes, you might want to use frozen basil directly without worrying about thawing them. The ice cube method is the best way to directly use your herbs.
First, wash your basil leaves gently and pat them dry. Then, either manually or with the help of a food processor, you can chop them into fine pieces. Now, add olive oil to the chopped basil leaves and mix them together.
Fill this mixture in clean and dry ice cube trays. Freeze the trays and you have perfectly green basil ice cubes for the next six months.
How to Freeze Basil Oil or Basil Pesto?
Basil Pesto or basil oil is the ultimate way to garnish your pasta, noodles, meat, and other kinds of meals. They instantly upgrade the flavors of a dish by giving it a distinct aroma and spicy flavor. Before you freeze basil pesto, you must know how to make one.
Preparing basil pesto is quite easy. Start by separating basil leaves and washing them thoroughly. Add them to a food processor along with some peanuts. Mix the two ingredients finely. You can scrap the sides of the food processor if the leaves aren’t getting mixed entirely.
Then add parmesan cheese or other cheese of your choice and crushed garlic and keep mixing the ingredients. When the herbs and nuts start to mix add half a cup of olive oil to this mix. Blend it in nicely and remove it in another container.
One way to freeze this prepared basil pesto is by directly popping them into airtight containers and freezing them. However, every time you’ll need your pesto you’ll have to thaw the entire container.
Another way is to pour the basil pesto or oil into an airtight bag and store the bag horizontally in the freezer. This way you will get a rectangular or square-shaped pesto block. Whenever you need it you can break a chunk of it and use it in your recipe.
Yet another way of storing basil pesto is to pour it into a bowl. Then wrap it with a cling film tightly so that air bubbles are removed from it. Then pop this bowl into the freezer. This method is useful if you prepare small portions of pesto and store them in different measurement cups.
Tips to Remember While Freezing Basil
After learning about methods of freezing basil leaves, it is time to remember certain tips for freezing them. Basil leaves are delicate herbs and there are a few ways in which you can prevent their texture.
- If you are opting for a more hygienic and solid method of freezing then go for the blanching method. The blanching technique halts any sort of bacterial growth and enzymatical reaction in basil leaves. Therefore, there is a one hundred percent guarantee that basil leaves won’t turn bad in the freezer.
- However, basil tends to lose its color when kept in the freezer. Therefore, if you want to harness the perfect green color of the basil leaves then try to freeze them by following the ice cube method.
- If you are freezing basil leaves then avoid adding olive oil or other oils in the first two methods. Because this might increase the risk of botulism toxication of the leaves. You must add olive oil to the leaves only if you are following the ice cube method or basil pesto freezing method.
- If you are freezing basil pesto, try to store it in separate containers with specific measurements. It helps in future use because you cannot refreeze basil pesto. If you try to refreeze it then it will lose its flavor, color, and texture.
- It isn’t necessary to defrost or thaw basil leaf ice cubes. You can toss them directly on the pan or throw them in your hot recipe. It will melt down quickly and release all the essential flavors.
Similar to other herbs used in culinary recipes, basil also tends to lose its color on freezing. Therefore, it is better to follow the tips mentioned above. Also, if you have dried basil powder then there is no need to freeze it. You can use dried powder throughout the year and store it in any dark place.