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freezing herbs?

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  • mtyf Jun 13, 2005 12:34 AM
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I have a sweet basil plant that, despite my best efforts, is not going to be with me for much longer. It still has some nice, healthy stems with bright green leaves, though more than I will want to eat within the next few days.

Is harvesting and freezing them an option? Or drying them? Any ideas would be appreciated, thanks!

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  1. Basil's flavor suffers greatly once removed from the plant. The season is still early and I would urge you to go out and get a couple of plants that have already been started. After the plant is an acceptable size, pinch off the growing tips. This allows all the plants energy to be directed to making those nice leaves instead of getting taller.

    Having said that, the best way to store basil is to infuse it in olive oil or vinegar. Also, you can wash the whole leaves, pat them dry and freeze them on a cookie sheet. Once frozen in this fashion, put them into freezer bags for longer term storage.

    1. Every fall I strip all the herb plants rather than lose them to frost. I just rinse Basil leaves and stuff as many as I can in large plastic bags. It gets a little slimy (not disgustingly so) but you can use it in cooking.

      1. I've had some luck placing basil leaves in an ice cube tray and then filing the tray with water. sorta like basil ice cubes. this method works pretty well when you plan to use the defrosted basil in a sauce.

        iirc, an internet serach on freezing basil will give you several tips.

        1. You could certainly dry them - just hang them in a dry place and crumble.

          But - that seems a waste of gorgeous fresh basil to me. Why not make a pesto and freeze it? You don't have to add garlic and pine nuts at this stage... just olive oil and basil in the food processor and you have a base for lots of great sauces.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Shiro Miso

            i agree with this tip and the preceeding one. a couple other pointers: 1) if you use the freeze in ice cube tray tip, the appearance does suffer somewhat (won't be attractive enough for sprinkling over food as a garnish), & 2) if you use the pesto tip, stick with the very basic basil & oil, adding the additional ingredients just before using will make a much brighter flavor.

          2. I freeze a lot of herbs but basil is the one I just can't seem to stand once frozen - it is grossly slimy when it thaws, to me. But I have had good luck with making it into a pesto or just an olive oil and basil mix and freezing it that way. Once it's slimy, I'm fairly turned off by it.

            1. Thanks for the input. I think I will do the pesto route - why didn't I think of that before? And maybe a bit for making an infused olive oil. That sounds lovely!

              1. Freezing a basil & olive oil (use a minimal amount of oil) pesto in ice cube trays, then removing, wrapping each one and bagging them up, will give you individual portions. I've done this for years every autumn and have lots of good soup-sauce basil for the winter-spring.

                Another option, a bit more expensive and work-intensive, is to freeze the leaves separately using dry ice. The extreme cold doesn't give slime a chance to form. For a primer on that method, Alton Brown did the same for strawberries in one of his shows.