Whether you enjoy making your own pesto or your own tomato-based pasta sauces, basil is a versatile herb to have on hand. Some people buy basil that is already dried. However, regular basil is a common, easy-to-grow garden herb with a sweet freshness that dry basil lacks.
When you find yourself with a surplus of fresh basil and don’t want to watch it go to waste, it is a good idea to freeze the herb so that you can have a constant supply in your kitchen.
To freeze basil, you can freeze whole leaves, make a puree and freeze this or turn the basil into a pesto and freeze this.
How to Freeze Basil
Due to how many uses basil has in the kitchen, there are a couple of ways to freeze basil which will make your food preparation easier later down the line.
Take a look at the various methods below to decide how best to freeze basil for your uses:
How to Freeze Whole Basil Leaves
Freezing your basil leaves whole will make them useful in a range of recipes once defrosted, just like fresh basil leaves:
- Prepare Boiling and Cold Water
To blanch basil leaves, prepare a pot of boiling water on the stove and have a bowl of cold water to hand. This process needs to happen quickly, so ensure you can easily transfer the leaves from each water container.
- Blanch the Leaves
When you’re ready, drop the basil leaves into the boiling water for only a couple of seconds – 5 seconds at the most. Then rush them over to the cold water to prevent them from overcooking, leaving them to soak for around 7 seconds.
- Thoroughly Dry
Using a paper towel or salad spinner, properly dry the blanched leaves. The dryer they are, the more evenly they will freeze.
- Layer the Leaves
It is not too much of an issue if you have clumps of frozen basil leaves if you use a lot of the herb in one go. But layering the leaves with pieces of parchment paper in between the layers will save you from having to separate the leaves when you are ready to defrost them.
- Use a Freezer Bag and Freeze
A plastic freezer bag will be perfect for storing your basil – so long as it can be properly secured. Once sealed, find a place in your freezer where the basil can lay flat without getting crushed.
Don’t wait for basil leaves to defrost themselves, as they will turn mushy. Instead, add them straight to your dish (or roughly chop then add to your dish) and cook until incorporated.
How to Freeze Pureed Basil Leaves
When you plan to use basil to flavour soups, stews or sauces, purifying the leaves before you freeze them may help to incorporate the basil into your recipe better.
For this method, you will need a blender or food processor:
- Blend the Leaves With Oil
Using your oil of choice to help make the puree smoother, blend your basil leaves in a food processor until smooth.
- Pour Into Ice Trays and Freeze
For a more manageable puree serving, pour your basil puree into whatever ice cube tray you have to hand. Try to use the same amount for each mould for an even freeze. When ready, set the ice trays in your freezer and give them a few hours to freeze until solid.
- Transfer to Freezer Bag
You could just leave the puree in the ice cube trays, but not everyone has ice trays to spare. Instead, pop out the puree cubes and store them in a freezer bag for up to 6 months.
Defrosting pureed basil leaves is as simple as deciding how many puree cubes you want to use and adding them to your hot dish until fully incorporated.
How to Freeze Basil Pesto
One of the most common uses for basil is making pesto. Freezing basil pesto may take a little more work now, but you will have delicious pesto to hand whenever you want:
- Blend Your Pesto Ingredients
Blend basil leaves, garlic, salt, nuts and cheese together until you get a rough mixture. Avoid overworking them as this can turn your pesto bitter (along with the other causes listed here).
- Add the Oil
To create a smooth pesto, keep your blender (or food processor) on and slowly add your oil a few spoonfuls at a time. Once smooth but still thick, pause to check the taste of the pesto and season accordingly.
- Freeze in an Ice Tray
As with the method above, separate your pesto mixture into ice cube trays and leave to freeze until the cubes are solid (which will take a few hours).
- Move to a Freezer Bag
Once the pesto is completely frozen, remove the cubes and store them in a secure freezer bag.
Using as many pesto cubes as needed, melt them into your dish until they can be mixed in like regular pesto. You can also leave them in a dish in the fridge overnight to defrost.
How to Freeze Basil Successfully
Here are a couple of tips to keep in mind no matter which method you use:
- Give it a Good Wash – No matter which method above you use to freeze your basil, it will be easier to wash away any soil or dirt before you freeze the herb. This can be done by rinsing the whole leaves under cold water or using a salad spinner.
- Don’t Forget to Label! – All the methods above will allow you to freeze your basil for up to 6 months. Make sure to properly label your basil with a use-by date to get the maximum use out of the herb.
Does Basil Freeze Well?
Basil is one of the best garden herbs to freeze and use whenever you need it.
How you freeze your basil depends on how you want to use it. Though freezing whole basil leaves will help retain the herb’s versatility.
Freezing Basil FAQs
If you still have questions about freezing basil then these FAQs might help you out:
Yes, basil can be frozen with other herbs and flavouring including garlic, ginger, chilli, coriander, rosemary or parsley. Chop up or puree all the ingredients before pushing them into the slots of an ice cube tray. Top them up with oil and then freeze.
If you plan on using basil raw after it has thawed, then freezing it will ruin it. If, however, you want to use it in a cooked dish, it will remain full of flavour.
Acacia may be a freelance writer by day, but they are a food fanatic by night. They are always trying out new recipes or finding different ways to elevate classical dishes. But their biggest culinary aim is to educate others on the basics of the kitchen so that they too can enjoy delicious food.