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Aug 2, 2007 11:14 AM

Need to get rid of a ton of basil!

I've never done it before, but people always tell me a great way to use excess basil is by making pesto and freezing it. I have a basil plant that is out of control this summer and I want to do just that. So give me your best pesto recipes and then freezing instructions to go with it!

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  1. This is a fairly thorough thread on what to do with extra basil, might help:

    1 Reply
    1. re: Mandymac

      Of course, freezing pesto is one way to use up fresh basil, but you can also dry it for use as a seasoning all winter. The dried, fresh basil is definitely better than what you by in the store. You don't need any special equipment or anything. Just lay it out on newspaper in your basement (if not damp) or somewhere. Sometimes I've used the tops of my kitchen cabinets. In a couple of weeks or so it will be dry. Seperate from stems, crumble, and store in odor-free glass jars.

    2. I make pesto as I normally would (basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, parm-reg cheese, black pepper). Then I spread it into an ice cube tray and cover with plastic wrap. Once the cubes are frozen I pop them out and put in a ziplock freezer bag. It lasts all winter. I defrost as many cubes as I might need (for sauce, etc.) or I just pop a cube into tomato soup, eg, and it melts on its own. The cube size works well to defrost just the amount you need.

      3 Replies
      1. re: LNG212

        Pesto freezes wonderfully, but one of my favorite ways to use up excess fresh basil is parmesan basil potatoes. Boil and mash your favorites with one chopped onion cooked slowly in half a stick of butter. Mix in 1/2 cup of grated parm and 1/2 cup of torn fresh basil leaves. Put potato mixture in a buttered casserole and top with additional parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 til cheese on top is golden and crispy.

        1. re: chanterelle

          I freeze cubes of chopped basil with a tiny bit of water and store the cubes in bags and use as needed. Basil freezes really well as others have noted.

          1. re: Densible

            Yes it does. I freeze the cubes in vegetable broth, using a silicone ice cube tray from BB&B.

      2. I used to freeze pesto in those little paper drinking cups. Pour olive oil on top and freeze. Will keep a year.

        1 Reply
        1. re: OldTimer

          I freeze pesto as well. LNG, but I find it freezes better without the cheese. I pop the frozen pellets of pesto (say that 3 times fast) in vegetable soup all winter long. This summer since the basil was so wonderful I made basil infused oil too. Mike Colamecco, on his radio show, said not to use olive oil for this so I used canola. I used a recipe I found on the Food Network and it was simply processing the blanched basil leaves in the oil and straining it. The basil oil is green and gorgeous.

        2. I usually process the basil with olive oil as if I'm making pesto, but don't add the other ingredients. Freeze, and when you defrost the basil add your garlic, pine nuts, and parmesan; the pesto seems to taste more freshly-made that way, and takes up (slightly) less space in the freezer. And if you wanted to vary the pesto in any way, you can.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Bat Guano

            That's exactly what I do. I find that it also allows you to use the basil in cooking applications other than pesto. I have even put a cube of the frozen basil/olive oil in the cavity of a chicken I was roasting. It thawed and the chicken had a great basil flavor that wasn't too strong.

            Great in soups as well.

          2. Basil Pine Nut dressing- (as a cook I don't use exact measurements)

            Toast Pine Nuts. In blender combine pine nuts, clove of garlic, dijon mustard, lemon juice, honey and s/p, should be paste like. With blender on add very large handful of basil leaves then start with a steady stream of Olive oil until emulsified... you know the ratios.

            This dressing is great on everything. I personally like it on cold asparagus.