The Best Way To Freeze Basil So It Doesn't Lose Any Flavor

basil plant
basil plant - Anna Klymchuk/Shutterstock

Basil is a vibrant herb that elevates your Mediterranean white bean bruschetta and plays a key role in heirloom tomato caprese. When in season, its aroma and striking appearance make it a showstopper in the garden, or a jar on the kitchen counter. As a sandwich addition or cocktail garnish, its large leaves embrace summer flavors. You can mix it into butter or oil, stick it on grilled pizza, and of course, add it to pasta. But, the season is short, and when it ends you'll likely be wondering about the best way to store fresh basil so you can enjoy it year-round.

There are several ways to preserve basil effectively. For example, you can dry it or turn it into basil pesto. However, when the goal is to hold onto the bright, peppery flavor basil is known for, process it into a paste and drop it into the freezer. This will allow you to use what you need for sauces or soups even when the days shorten and the temperatures drop.

Read more: 8 Baking Sheet Mistakes You Want To Avoid

Why And How To Freeze Basil

bags of frozen basil
bags of frozen basil - Ahanov Michael/Shutterstock

Freezing basil is the best way to retain the bold flavors in the leaves. If you think about it, it's no different from freezing other garden gems at their height of freshness, such as corn, peas, and peppers. In addition, having basil ready to grab throughout the year means you can dish out the essence of summer with creamy pesto pasta in the fall, or prepping deli sandwiches with bright basil aioli for lunch during the winter workweek.

Prepping basil for the freezer is quick and easy, requiring only two ingredients. All you need to do is remove the leaves from the stems, wash them, and place them in a food processor. Give it a good pulsing and then drizzle in olive oil. The oil will help prevent the unappealing blackening that can happen when basil is frozen. Continue to pulse until the combination is well blended. Then put the paste in an airtight bag, seal it, and freeze. If you press it flat inside the bag, it takes up almost no room in the freezer, which is another great reason to adopt this method.

Other Ways To Preserve Basil

fresh and dried basil
fresh and dried basil - Victoriya89/Getty Images

Once you've made basil paste, there are options for how to store it. For example, you can press the paste into an ice cube tray. Once frozen, remove the cubes from the tray and put them in an airtight container so they don't suffer freezer burn or turn brown. Another option is to make scoops of paste. Place them on a tray and freeze them until they harden. Then place them into a bag or freezer-safe container. If you don't have a food processor, you can use a blender or finely mince the basil with a knife instead. Coat it with oil by stirring the ingredients in a bowl. Then freeze it in the same way as basil paste made with a food processor.

Basil retains a lot of flavor if you don't dehydrate it. However, dried basil has certainly earned a place in the kitchen too. If you want to refill the spice jar, wash your basil leaves and then spread them out on a baking sheet. Leave them in a warm oven for a few hours until they easily crumble. Store dried basil in airtight jars. Whether you freeze or dry it, preserving basil is a great way to make the most out of your garden's abundance and avoid food waste.

Read the original article on Daily Meal