It’s that time again! My basil is more like a big bush and it’s starting to bloom. I do try to keep those blooms cut off so it will continue to bush out and be full. But now it’s time to harvest those leaves and put them in the freezer. I like to process the leaves with extra virgin olive oil in the food processor, spoon the mixture into ice cube trays and freeze them. My ice cube trays hold approximately 2 Tablespoons each, so when I’m putting them in recipes, I know about how much I’m putting in. I’ve done it this way for years and have tried other ways but found this method to keep best in the freezer. Such an easy way to add fresh flavor when fresh basil is out of season!
I also have a fresh Basil Pesto that I make in the food processor and Freeze Basil Pesto the same way. It’s great on bow tie pasta. Throw in some toasted pine nuts and Parmesan cheese and you have a fabulous side dish! Here’s the recipe for the Freezing Basil Pesto.
Now for freezing basil, here’s what I do.
First you will want to wash and dry the basil leaves. I get a big towel and lay it on the counter beside my sink and as I wash the leaves, I shake off the excess water and lay them on the towel to air dry. I also take a paper towel and dab them to help dry faster.
Measure about 4 cups of lightly packed dry basil leaves. I have a tendency to weigh them. You need 3 ounces. It’s really hard to be consistent with the ratio of basil and extra virgin olive oil unless I weigh the basil and I just find that easier. Sometimes I pack them harder than other times and end up needing to add more oil. Not that it’s necessary, I just find it to be a simpler way.
In the food processor, pulse about 1/3 of the leaves first for about 30 seconds, add another 1/3 and pulse again, then add the rest of the leaves.
Now, through the opening in the top, slowly drizzle 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil while you’re pulsing the food processor. Process until you get it the consistency you like. I don’t like to do it too long since I still want some small pieces. After you have added all of the oil, you will likely need to open the top and scrape down the sides for those few leaves that just don’t want to cooperate and be a “wall flower”.
Spoon the basil and oil into ice cube trays.
Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over the top. This helps protect that top layer from freezer burn.
Cover with plastic wrap and put in the freezer. Freeze 24 hours.
Get a 9×13 baking dish and add about 1/2 – 3/4 inch of cool water. Take the ice trays out of the freezer and sit in the water for about 30 seconds. This will help loosen the cubes.
Write the content and date on the freezer zip top baggies before you fill them with the basil cubes. I have found that I get oil on the baggies while handling and putting the cubes in them and then the markers just don’t write as well. Then Pop out the cubes and put them in the zip top baggies. Put the baggies in the freezer. Done!
A little tip: Measure Tablespoons of water in one of the cubes so you’ll know how much chopped basil you’ll have. Write that on the zip top baggies. Then mid winter when you want to drop one of the frozen cubes in a pot of soup or sauce, you’ll know how much each one is.
Here’s the printer friendly recipe: