Thursday, July 21, 2011

Freezing Basil

In my gardening experience, Basil has not been one of my high points. I usually forget to water it, and then I get sidetracked with life and I forget to pick it until it's way overgrown and gone to seed.  At most, I would get a few pickings for embellishing a meal here and there each summer.

This year has been different.  The garden might look a wee bit sparse on the bean row, but the groundhogs don't seem to like basil.  Plus, I planted the basil in the rows, mixed in with my veggies, instead of in the overgrown herb garden or a container that always dries out.

So, the basil has been good this year. And I find that it's one thing I can stand to process/deal with in this heatwave we have been experiencing.

Today, I went out and picked two salad spinner's worth of basil. Since I have little experience with preserving it, I looked up info on how to preserve this fresh herb.

So, here's what I did today.

How to Freeze Basil

1. Pick  your basil, pinching it off at the base of each stem. New leaves will grow on the plant on either side of this stem.  Be sure to leave some leaves on each plant, as that is how the plant gets energy to grow new leaves.

2. Rinse the basil in cool water and pinch off the leaves. Place the leaves in a bowl and discard(compost) the stems.

3. Give your basil one last rinse if needed, then use your salad spinner to get as much water off as possible. Alternatively, dry with a clean towel.

4. Fill your food processor with the basil, being sure not to pack it in too tight.

5. Run your food processor, and stream in some olive oil as it processes, until the basil looks like pesto. I used a couple tablespoons worth of oil. You need the oil to help the basil to keep its color and not turn black once it's frozen.

6. Divvy it up into ice cube trays and freeze.

7. After freezing, put the basil cubes in a freezer bag to use later in soups, stews, on pizza, pasta, etc.

In my experience, two food processers full of basil yielded about 1 1/2 ice cube trays of basil cubes.

Voila! I've got the lovely taste of basil without a long list of additives!

How do you like your Basil?

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