I adore basil. It is my most favorite herb! In fact, I love it so much that the name Basil has been on my "names for little boys" list since 1999!
I just finished putting some freshly picked basil away in my freezer and thought my readers would enjoy an easy tutorial!
It's only recently that I've begun to use fresh basil and while the dried-in-a-jar variety is fragrant and delicious, it doesn't hold a candle to my homegrown!
You will know that your basil is at it's best "picking state" when it gets buds on it and begins to flower.
Clip as much off as you want but leave a few leaves to soak up the rays for more plant growth! Something to keep in mind with basil: the more you clip, the more you get as basil grows back two new stems for every one that is clipped!
Pick off the big leaves and carefully wash each one. Be aware that little bugs like to hide in the shady places under the dark basil leaves. Wash both sides and run your fingers along to wipe off any dirt or....baby snails!
|Take a moment to look for any that might be trying to get away!!|
|When you've washed all the leaves, place them in a colander and shake or use a salad spinner if you have one.|
|Next, place the leaves in a food processor, if available, and pulse until they're the size you prefer. I don't have a food processor so I used my Pampered Chef Food Chopper.|
You'll want to add a little bit of olive oil to the basil to keep it from turning black in the freezer. (It doesn't affect the taste...just the appearance) If you are using a food processor, you can add it in as you're chopping the basil. I just poured some in the bowl when I was done chopping with my food chopper and mixed it up with a spatula. The amount you'll need will vary depending on what you plan to do with your basil, but I just used enough to cover each piece.
Finally, you'll want to decide how you're going to divide it up to freeze. It is wise to freeze each recipe size separately. I divided mine up to have a couple good spoonfulls in each container. I plan to put it in pasta sauce and my pasta sauce must feed a family of 9!
You can freeze your basil in small containers, if you have them. I used these two:
Notice they're not fancy! I got one at the Dollar Store for my daughter's baby food and the other is a little Rubbermaid-type lunch box one. You just need something that will be airtight to avoid freezer burn. If I didn't have these two containers, I would have used sandwich bags and then just placed all the bags into one large freezer bag.
**Update: Several readers have mentioned another great freezing method. You can also measure your basil out into ice cube trays and freeze it that way. Then, once it's frozen, pop all the little cubes into a freezer bag to be taken out individually for soup, sauce and more! I will be designating a tray specifically for this as I imagine the tray would eventually take on the wonderful aroma and color of basil! (Though that little taste of basil in lemonade or iced tea might not be too bad??)
Herbs will keep for many years but you'll get your best flavor if you use your basil within the year. Here are a few facts about basil:
**Basil comes from the Greek language and means "king". Basil has been called the "King of the Herbs"
**Basil is highly poisonous to mosquitoes, (Yay!) but safe for rats (bummer!)
**Basil is thought to be a great treatment for arthritis and has antioxidant and anticancer properties.
**Basil will affect the taste of tomatoes if planted too close together. This could be a good or bad thing--depending on what you're doing with your tomatoes!