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Sep 28, 2009 05:25 AM

How to preserve fresh basil for the winter

I have around 20 plants of basil and it's time to harvest them. Actually it was time to harvest them a week ago, it's a bit cold now so I'm worried that my basil will have a different taste than if I had them harvested last week. Anyways,

What's the best method to store them? I've heard of the following methods:

1. Pesto
2. Popping them right in the freezer once they're dry after being washed
3. Putting a layer of kosher salt (why kosher?) in a container, adding a layer of basil leafs, adding another layer of salt, and then another layer of leafs, and repeating the process until the container is full (where is this kept? In the freezer or fridge?).

I've already made a batch of pesto, so I think I'm going to go with #2, but I'm worried that the leaves will turn black or once thawed, wilt and lose their texture.


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  1. I firmly believe that you can never have too much pesto. It's a perfect quick dinner on nights that you don't want to cook.

    You could also dehydrate it and store it in a sealed bag.

    1. I blanch the basil (just dump into boiling water, swish around and fish it out) I put into pesto (a Jacques P├ępin technique) and it stays brilliantly green - perhaps this would work for freezing leaves?

      1. I don't know what is the best way but personally my favourite is making pesto. You can go basic (basil, olive oil, salt, garlic) or you can go all out (with pinenuts, Romano etc.). I agree with the other poster, you can never have too much pesto!

        1. I chop mine in the food processor with oil and freeze it in a layer and cut into chunks. I store it in a ziplock bag. Exactly the same thing I do for pesto, except just the oil and basil. Doesn't turn black.

          I have so much basil this year. Mine thrived in the cooler summer. I have already made two big batches of cashew pesto and should have enough by frost to make regular pesto and plain frozen basil.

          1. I do the same thing as Sooeygun - freeze just the basil and olive oil, so you're ready to make pesto. Pesto made from frozen basil, but with fresh garlic, cheese, and nuts tastes better - fresher - than fully-made pesto that's been frozen and thawed.

            Aside from this technique, every time I"ve tried to preserve herbs by freezing I've been disappointed in the results.