what is the best way to freeze basil?
Had this discussion recently with a few friends. We all are growing basil in our gardens. One told me she just cuts almost an entire plant at the base, sticks it in a paper bag, and puts the whole thing in the freezer. I tried this and the entire plant turned black.
Another friend says she picks all the leaves off and puts them in a plastic bag; sticks the plastic bag in the freezer. Again, basil turned black and mushy for me when I have tried that.
The only way I have successfully frozen basil and had it stay green is by doing the following (another friend taught me this):
Pick leaves, and chop.Toss with small amount of salt and some olive oil. Place basil and olive oil mixture on good quality plastic wrap; mold it into a long, thin shape (like a cigar)
Roll plastic wrap tightly around basil 'cigar', and then cover the roll with tin foil. Store in freezer.
As you need basil, remove the tin foil and peel back the plastic. Chop off as much as you need, and re-wrap carefully before putting back in freezer (do not allow to defrost)
Basil always stays green and does not loose flavor this way.
I'd like to see what others do to store this herb.
I'll admit, I cheat outrageously. I take enough to make a small bunch (typically three to four fronds) and place them inside of a half-folded paper towel. Then I just use my Food Saver. The vacuumed bags are nice and flat, easy to label, and stack well in the chest freezer. We have those heavy cardstock accordian files (the ones with the letters at the top, for easy organizing) and just slip the herbs in by their first letter after they're labelled. Makes finding them a snap. Once a month I go through the files and look for anything getting more than two months old and pick that for use soonest. With the paper towel wrapping to absorb excess moisture and the vacuum seal to remove all the air, they last quite a long while.
I chop a whole mess of it in the processor with just enough olive oil to keep it moving, then pack into ice cube trays. When totally frozen, I pop out of the trays, pack into containers and back into the freezer. So great to have it in quantities without having to chop or break apart when I need it. Works for any use except, of course, where you'd want to basil completely uncooked (as in a salad). The colour does change slightly, but doesn't turn black.