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Sep 12, 2012 01:24 PM

Basil leaves galore

I plan to dry most of my basil. But first, a question. Is it better to tear or chiffonade the leaves or is that determined by your usage, ie. cooking, salad etc.

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  1. Basil leaves once torn or removed from the stem age super fast. Best to decide how you plan to use them first. They freeze well prepared as a sauce, dip, marinade. Don't try to keep them cold as is. Dried find a dark, dry space to hang the plants, stems and all upside down. Until fully dry, then crush.

    3 Replies
    1. re: HillJ

      you know what HillJ you are brill. I too have 8-10 fully mature plants that have gone to seed but still have a lot of gorgeous leaves. I'll do your suggestion. can I do anything with the seeds like save them for next years crop or no?

      1. re: iL Divo

        I haven't had any luck with seeds from previous plants. I always start fresh. HST, it couldn't hurt to try yourself and see what develops next planting season.

        1. re: HillJ

          oh I have tried several times just sticking them in good soil and hoping. but nothing. thought maybe you had to do something special to them to prep them ease into gestation.

    2. I chiffonade basil leaves, put them in a jar, cover with warm-to-hot olive oil, let sit oout up to 24 hours, and refrigerate. You'll then have basil-flavored olive oil.

      7 Replies
      1. re: EWSflash

        EWS, does the oil solidify on you in the frig? I keep flavored oils long term in my wine cooler box for that reason. Otherwise in the pantry for short term keeping.

        1. re: HillJ

          I have a container of garlic infused olive oil in the fridge now - it is solidified, but easily spoonable, and it begins to liquefy the moment I take it out of the fridge.

          1. re: biondanonima

            If what I'm preparing is going to be heated it that works great, if I'm using it as part of a cold dressing not so much. But, brushed on fish, bread, pasta-I agree, works fine.

          2. re: HillJ

            HillJ, If you have a wine cooler fridge, then absolutely keep it there! I have no such appliance, sadly. Yes, it solidifies, but if you take it out for a day, then put it back in it tends to take a few days to resolidify. I worry about botulism-type contaminants for long-term keeping out of refrigeration. And i'm not the nervous nellie type, either.

          3. re: EWSflash

            thought of doing just that but I read somewhere that you can only keep the oil in fridge for a week or so because of contamination-not safe and I'd for sure not use up the oil in that amount of time. how long to keep and how safe is it? or should I do HillJ's idea, let it completely dry and add 'that' to warmed oil? it should be ok I'd think then, no?

            1. re: iL Divo

              Yeah, I'd go with warming the oil, add the fresh basil and then serve.

              1. re: iL Divo

                Well, I never had a problem, but then I kept it in the fridge until I want to use it, and have been known to use a microwave to hasten liquification. I think dried basil loses a lot of its character.

            2. I made a basil salt this year and it is delicious.

              2 Replies
              1. re: angelsmom

                I've thought of that or rosemary salt or sage salt or oregano salt, my plants are plentiful.

                1. The best way I have found is to freeze them as is or make pesto and freeze. The leaves turn black and disgusting when dried, at least when dried as is. I haven't tried hanging.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: coll

                    Basil is particulary challenging in the wrong setting to dry. Unless I have a specific reason for doing so the fresh stuff is so much easier anyway. I tend to freeze what I want for later in ice cube trays.

                    1. re: HillJ

                      ...but freeze them in what HillJ, a little water or a little ?

                      1. re: iL Divo

                        I freeze them in water, lemon, vinegar, cider vinegar and vegetable broth. Depends on the purpose.

                    2. re: coll

                      I put them in the FP with a little EVO,put them in a Baggie,take all the air out of the bag and lay it flat in the freezer. Doesn't take up any space. When you need some basil just brake off as much as you need. I too have had a bumper crop this summer and since I keep cutting it back it's still going strong. Also freeze Pesto in mini muffin tins,take out and put in a freezer bag. Each piece is 1T worth.

                    3. This is something different but fried basil leaves are delicious!

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: chefathome

                        oh I bet, Rasika in DC does a great flash-fried spinach salad and I imagine basil would be over-the-top phenomenal.

                          1. re: hill food

                            The spinach dish at Rasika was one of the most delicious and interesting dishes I have eaten in a long time. I am resigned to being unable to replicate it at home.