Basil, also known as royal herb, is a popular kitchen herb and especially Italian dishes can not be imagined without it. We show you step by step how to freeze fresh basil.
- wash and dry before freezing
- blanch beforehand if possible, improves shelf life
- freeze immediately after harvesting, whole leaves or minced
- freeze in portions mixed with oil or water in ice cube trays
Before freezing, however, is the harvesting of basil. This should be done at a time when the herb has already fully developed its aroma. As a rule, this is the case in the early morning, preferably on sunny, warm days. Leaves from plants that are about to flower are also particularly aromatic.
- pluck off individual leaves
- optionally cut off whole branches
- leave at least two leaves
- rinse under running water
- then pat dry
It is very important not to chop the basil at this stage, otherwise it will quickly lose its aroma and become bitter. Therefore, it is best to leave the leaves whole. In addition, you should sort out brown or dabbed basil leaves and dry twigs.
Tip: You can also conveniently spin dry larger quantities of washed basil in a salad spinner.
Before freezing basil, it is best to blanch it first, i.e. swish it through boiling water for a few seconds. By doing so, you will kill harmful microorganisms, improve shelf life and preserve the typical aroma. Proceed as follows for scalding:
- Boil water in a pot
- Prepare bowl with cold, lightly salted water and ice cubes
- put basil leaves in boiling water for two to three seconds
- remove with a skimmer
- immediately put them into ice water
- drain in a sieve
- dry carefully
This step is not mandatory for freezing basil. If you ever need to do it quickly, you can freeze basil leaves without blanching them first.
Now the prepared basil can be frozen. You have several options for this. You can:
- freeze basil leaves whole
- chop them immediately before freezing
- freeze as pesto (i.e. mixed with oil)
- freeze in portions (e.g. in ice cube trays)
To prevent basil leaves from sticking together during freezing, pre-freeze them spread flat on a board or tray. Then place the leaves in an airtight freezer bag or freezer container. Especially handy are basil cubes, where you mix finely chopped basil with water or oil and freeze in ice cube containers. This way you always have ready portions of the kitchen herb on hand. Basil frozen in various ways can be kept for up to 12 months.
Tip: Do not leave basil too long, but process it immediately after harvest. The longer you leave the herb, the more it loses flavor – even when stored in the refrigerator.
Frequently asked questions
How can I preserve basil?
Basil can also be dried very well, for example in the oven, in the air or in a dehydrator. You can also preserve it in vinegar or oil, for which olive oil or sunflower oil or white wine vinegar are particularly suitable. Even preserving with salt works well, mixing about 1 part finely chopped basil with 2 parts sea or rock salt. Basil salt will keep for about a year. Last but not least, the herb can of course be preserved as a pesto.
What is the shelf life of basil preserved in oil?
Fresh basil pickled in olive or sunflower oil will keep for about four to six months. Make sure that the previously washed and carefully dried leaves are completely covered with the oil. In addition, you should only pickle healthy, green herb. The jars used for this purpose should be able to be sealed airtight. Therefore, jars like those used for canning are particularly suitable.
Can Thai basil also be frozen?
Thai basil is a subspecies of the well-known shrub basil, but tastes much more intense and rather anise-like. However, you can freeze this culinary herb just like regular basil to preserve it.