The fresh, sweet aroma of basil is beloved in many kitchens. However, this fragrant herb can be difficult to store and enjoy over a long period of time. If you want to keep your basil supply stocked for weeks or months at a time, freezing it may be the best way to go. In this post, we will discuss how to freeze basil with three easy methods: blanching, airtight containers/vacuum sealed bags, and flash freezing.
Introduction – What is Basil?
Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is an annual plant that has been used since ancient times as both a culinary herb and medicinal remedy. It has an unmistakable flavor and aroma that adds depth to salads, sauces, pastas, soups, pizzas, and more. The leaves of basil are highly nutritious, providing essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin K, manganese, iron, calcium, folate, magnesium, potassium, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Harvesting Basil at the Right Time
When harvesting basil, make sure you do so at the right time. Avoid picking too early in the season; wait until the stem length reaches around 6 inches before snipping off any sprigs. Use a pair of sharp scissors or pruners to cut back on stems without damaging other plants nearby. As soon as you’ve harvested enough basil, take the herbs inside immediately to prevent wilting.
Method 1 – Blanching Process
The first method for freezing basil involves a process called blanching. This method helps preserve color, texture, flavor, and nutrition of the basil by briefly boiling it in water then transferring it to ice water to stop the cooking process. To begin blanching your basil, fill a pot with water and bring it to a boil. Add the herbs and let them cook for about 2 minutes. Remove them from the boiling water and place into cold water for another 2 minutes. Then transfer the basil onto paper towels to drain away excess liquid before placing into airtight containers or vacuum-sealed bags.
Method 2 – Air Tight Containers or Vacuum Sealed Bags
For the second method of freezing basil, all you need is an airtight container or vacuum sealed bag. Simply add the freshly picked herbs directly into the container or bag and seal tightly shut. Place these containers or bags in the freezer where they can stay safely stored for up to six months. Once frozen, use kitchen shears or a knife to snip off small portions whenever needed for recipes or dishes.
Method 3 – Flash Freezing Technique
The last method for preserving basil involves something called “flash freezing” which helps preserve individual pieces of herbs while maintaining their shape and texture. Start by washing and drying the basil leaves. Lay them out individually on a parchment lined baking sheet and freeze for 30 minutes or longer until completely solidified. Once frozen, transfer the leaves into an airtight container or vacuum sealed bag and store in the freezer for later use.
Benefits of Freezing Basil
Freezing your basil has many advantages over other storage methods such as dehydration or pickling. First, frozen herbs retain their original flavors much better than dried or canned ones because less moisture is lost during the preservation process. Second, you can easily portion out individual servings when frozen making it easier to manage portion sizes. Lastly, frozen herbs have a significantly longer shelf life—up to six months—which means you don’t have to worry about running out anytime soon!
Other Ways to Preserve Fresh Basil
If you’re looking for alternative ways to preserve your basil harvest, there are a few other options worth exploring. Drying is one popular choice because it requires minimal effort and provides a relatively long-term solution (up to 12 months). Another option is pickling which preserves your herbs in vinegar, salt brine, and spices to give them unique flavor profiles ideal for savory dishes. Finally, you could try making herbal oils or vinegars with your fresh herbs by infusing them in oil or vinegar then straining out the solids after two weeks.
Expert Tips for Long Term Storage of Frozen Basil
No matter what method you choose for freezing your basil, here are some tips to ensure maximum quality and longevity:
- Make sure your herbs are completely dry before freezing otherwise they can become soggy and discolored when thawed.
- For best results use only high-quality airtight containers or freezer-safe bags when storing your frozen herbs.
- When possible, separate large batches of herbs into smaller portions before freezing to help conserve space in the freezer and make it easier to access small amounts at once when needed.
- Label each container or bag with date and type of herb before freezing for quick reference later on.
- Take extra care when removing frozen herbs from the containers or bags; always use utensils such as forks or tongs instead of bare hands as the extreme temperatures can cause serious burns if handled improperly.
Freezing is one of the easiest ways to extend the shelf life of basil and other fragile herbs alike. By using any one of the three simple methods described above—blanching process, airtight containers/vacuum sealed bags, and flash freezing technique—you can quickly turn your summer harvests into long-term pantry staples ready for enjoyment throughout the year!
I am an inspired, life-long homesteader with a heart for simple, sustainable living. Growing up surrounded by farmland in the rural Midwest, I developed a deep respect for nature and the rewards of cultivating your own land. That’s why I’m passionate about helping others become homesteaders, too. Through my website therootedhomestead.com, I share my DIY tips, share inspiring stories of other homesteaders, and provide resources for anyone who dreams of growing their own food or living off the land. I hope to open a door to a more joyful, meaningful and purposeful life for all.