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More questions about freezing basil

CindyJ Sep 15, 2008 08:32 AM

I've got my best-ever crop of basil, and I hate to see it go unused. I’ve read several posts about methods of freezing basil, and thought I’d give it a try. I rinsed then dried the leaves, then pulsed them in the food processor with a small amount of olive oil until I had something close to a puree. I froze the puree in sections of an ice cube tray, removed the frozen cubes, wrapped each in a small piece of wax paper, and put them into a zip-loc freezer bag. The only thing I wasn't happy about was how dark the puree was -- almost black, in fact.

Granted, if I put a cube or two into a pasta sauce, the color won't matter. Still, I wonder if there's a way to avoid the darkening of the basil. For example, if I blanched the leaves briefly, then shocked them in ice water and dried them before processing, would that make a difference? Is there something else I can do or add that will keep the basil a brighter green?

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  1. t
    The Old Gal RE: CindyJ Sep 19, 2008 07:52 AM

    I haven't tried either of these but I have read these two solutions and they are logical.
    One was to use vitamin C in the mix in the blender/processor. I have used that in canning and it worked.
    The other was to put the oil in the blender/processor early. The theory is that if the leaves are coated before they are cut, the oil will cover the cuts and therefore no blackening. That was a tip for making pesto.
    Hope one of them works for you.

    2 Replies
    1. re: The Old Gal
      CindyJ RE: The Old Gal Sep 19, 2008 12:25 PM

      Vitamin C in what form and how much?

      1. re: CindyJ
        The Old Gal RE: CindyJ Oct 4, 2008 08:49 PM

        Sorry, I got lost.
        Chiarello just uses Vit C tablets like you get on the vitamin shelf. Pounds them to powder and he didn't say how much per how much basil

    2. stellamystar RE: CindyJ Sep 19, 2008 08:01 PM

      Not sure on the frozen end - BUT, Ina Garten said to pour olive oil on top of the container you're storing it in to prevent blackening. LIke your making an oil slick!
      Anyone done that?

      2 Replies
      1. re: stellamystar
        firecooked RE: stellamystar Sep 19, 2008 08:18 PM

        I puree with olive oil (not a lot, but maybe more than OP), then QUICKLY put into a zip-lock bag, push out the air and seal. I use a quart size bag, and then fold into quarters, which makes it easy to pull out what I need. I have stuff in the freezer from last year that is still green (and bummed that my basil plants this year aren't as bountiful as I would like).

        1. re: stellamystar
          CindyJ RE: stellamystar Sep 20, 2008 06:53 AM

          I've done that with small jars of pesto. I pour a thin film of olive oil on top of the pesto, cover it with saran wrap that touches the surface, cover and refrigerate.

        2. r
          rtms RE: CindyJ Sep 20, 2008 07:49 AM

          I think the blackening of basil is the result of oxidation. When the leaves are cut and the plant cells are broken and 'juices' are exposed to air - it turns black. Adding more oil and closing the containers quickly will help but like you said - you'll be putting the processed basil into something and any bright green colour would be lost.

          1. n
            nemo RE: CindyJ Sep 20, 2008 08:03 AM

            I've seen Michael Chiarello do the blanching thing to preserve the green color. He also has used a vitamin C tablet ground up. I can't remember if he was freezing the pesto though or just keeping it in the fridge for a day or overnight.

            I'm so jealous of your bumper crop!

            1 Reply
            1. re: nemo
              CindyJ RE: nemo Sep 21, 2008 07:29 AM

              Funny thing about my basil crop this year. The only kind of gardening I do is container gardening. In years past, I'd plant my basil in a large container and set it out below my deck in a spot that gets the most sun. It would always start to grow really well, and then bugs would get to it. This year, when the bugs started to attack, I moved the container up onto the deck. Less sun, but no bugs. Guess what...? The basil not only thrived, it grew like crazy! The more I cut it, the more it grew. I gave bunches to anyone who wanted it. So now, with the bug problem solved, the only "problem" I'm left with is what to do with the bounty.

            2. winencheesepa RE: CindyJ Oct 15, 2008 10:15 AM

              I grow large amounts of basil and parsley. At the end of the season I make small batches of pesto, some basil, some parsley. I then pour the pesto into ice cube trays, lay a little plastic wrap over the surface, and freeze them. Once frozen I plop them out and put them into a freezer quality zip lock bag. I use them over the winter months for pesto/pasta dishes. Works great.

              1 Reply
              1. re: winencheesepa
                CindyJ RE: winencheesepa Oct 15, 2008 03:32 PM

                About two weeks ago, I harvested my basil and did a bit of experimenting. Each batch was doled out into ice cube trays and frozen, and the cubes were re-packed in freezer ziploc bags. In small batches I tried each of the following: (1) blanch in plain water, shock in ice water, spin-dry, chop in food processor; (2) blanch in water to which I'd added a small amount of lemon juice, shock in ice water, spin-dry, chop in food processor; (3) blanch in plain water, shock in ice water, spin-dry, chop in food processor with olive oil. I'll add that a few weeks before I did a batch where I didn't blanch, but rinsed the basil leaves and chopped with oil in the FP. THAT batch came out looking dark and VERY unappetizing. The results -- Method #2 held its color the best and I liked the consistency and texture of the leaves that had not been processed with oil.

                I'm sure any of these could be used for cooking sauces, but Method #2 can also be used in salad dressing and other recipes where the basil is noticeable.

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