Friday, September 18, 2009

What to do with all that basil?

I have been asked this summer by many fellow basil lovers, "Do you dry your basil to preserve it for winter?" My answer is always an emphatic, "No! Freeze it!" But then I thought to myself, why am I so emphatic about it? Maybe drying is better, or at least as good?

I did a bit of online research (ie Google) and found that the world seems evenly split between freezing and drying, but those that stand up for freezing do so because they like the flavor better with that method. And it is so much more versatile too--how would you make pesto in February from your dried basil? I don't think so... Since I fall squarely in the "freezing makes for better flavor" camp, I will continue with my freezing ways.

Here's how I do it:
Pick and wash basil. I don't wash basil until just as I'm about to use it, since it tends to deteriorate pretty quickly after washing. Pat it dry with towels or spin it dry in one of those salad spinners.

The next part really does require a food processor, or maybe a very powerful blender. Stuff basil leaves into the bowl of your food processor (not too many at one time, as that can make it difficult to blend properly), put the lid on and start whizzing. Have your olive oil ready, and start drizzling it through the top feeder of the food processor, slowly. Continue to process until you have a basil paste, taking care not to make it too liquidy with the olive oil. If that happens, just add some more basil leaves until you have the desired consistency.

Brighter green color going in to the freezer

How you freeze it from this point is really up to you. I have heard of freezing in ice cube trays, or measuring cups. I recently used a mini muffin tin for 2 Tbsp. portions, and a regular muffin tin for 1/3 cup portions. Whatever you freeze in, I recommend lining it with plastic wrap first so that the cubes will just pop out when frozen.

Darker green color coming out of the freezer!

Cubes, ready for their ziploc home!

Once frozen, the cubes are easily stored in freezer ziplocs and are available for use in soups, to make pesto, or anywhere else you want a little garden-fresh basil flavor. Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. You truly are the Basil Fairy. Sara is graciously sharing some of hers with me so I can make pesto for the very first time.


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