I have spent my adult life wanting so badly to call myself a gardener. The overwhelming pride of feeding your family the fruits of the soil in your very backyard seems somehow magical to me. Unfortunately, it took my husband finally pointing out that although I till the soil and plant the seeds, nothing ever actually grows. Feeding my family is certainly never going to happen from the big mess that is the reality of my backyard garden. There is one exception however and that is basil. I mean I don’t just grow basil – I GROW it. There is basil that is taller than my 6 year old daughter. Sadly, a simple herb on its own doesn’t do much to feed a family of four but something still needs to happen with my jungle of basil plants.
Can You Freeze Basil?
Luckily basil does a pretty stand up job when it comes to being frozen.
How To Freeze Basil
I actually freeze my basil using two different methods. I freeze the basil leaves on their own, and also make a simple pesto and freeze that.
Freezing the plain basil leaves, requires a quick blanching to help maintain its bright green color. I always prepare my ice bath ahead of time because the blanching process is so quick. I typically fill a large bowl with ice water and then “float” a strainer in the water. This makes draining the leaves a snap. Once the ice bath is in place, bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Use this time to remove any excess, unwanted stems from the basil leaves. When the water is boiling, drop the prepared basil leaves in the water for a mere 2 minutes. When time is up, quickly scoop up the leaves and place them in the ice bath. This process will kill the enzymes in the plant that will cause the leaves to brown while in the freezer. When the leaves have completely cooled, remove them from the ice bath and place them on clean, dry kitchen towels covered with paper towels. Allow them to dry thoroughly. Once the leaves are dry, place them in freezer safe bags either in unit of use amounts or such that pieces can be broken off as needed.
My second and probably favorite way to preserve my basil harvest is by whipping up a simple basil pesto and freezing it for later use. I just love the taste of basil pesto. Whether on crusty crostini as a spread or over pasta as a sauce, it’s like a burst of summer flavor any time of the year. My favorite basil pesto recipe uses lemon which I love and I think adds to the taste of summer, but use whatever recipe you love. Once you have the pesto prepared, I simply fill ice cube trays and pop them in the freezer covered tightly with plastic wrap. Once the “cubes” are frozen through, you can pop them out and put them in a freezer bag or airtight container so you can reuse the ice cube tray for other things like say ice.
You can also reference my post on how to freeze olive oil for another option for preserving your fresh basil.
Both of these methods are quick and easy and for a wannabe gardener with a black thumb. They let me feel a tiny bit of that “feed my family from the fruits of my labor” magic throughout the year.