Ways to Preserve Basil
When collecting basil from the plant for preservation purposes try and harvest as soon in the day as you can. The oils of the plant seem to be more abundant at this time of the day.
Basil can be chopped and frozen with water in ice cube trays. This is an ideal way to preserve basil when using basil for dishes such as casseroles and pasta sauces. The whole ice cube can be added. Make sure you know how much you have frozen in each cube as you may need to add several!!
Alternatively, you can freeze whole leaves in freezer bags. They can be taken out of the freezer when required and immediately ‘crushed’ whilst still in the bag and popped into your dish. Do not wait a few minutes until the basil has defrosted as it will go very slimy.
Ensure the bottle is sterile and add the basil. Store in the fridge and use as required. When preserving basil using this method, some of the oil will inevitably be incorporated into the dish in which the basil is being used.
Alternatively, blend the basil with the oil in a blender or food processor and then bottle the paste. Make sure you take into account the oil you have used in the paste when making your dish.
To preserve Basil in salt, simply layer sea salt in a jar, and add basil leaves. Keep the salt jars in the freezer and use the basil within six months.
Ensure that the leaves do not touch each other and do not over handle them or they will bruise and turn black. Basil will keep in this way for about 6 months.
Discoloration when Preserving Basil
You may find your basil turns very dark when preserved using the above methods. One recommended way of avoiding this is to very carefully blanche the freshly picked basil leaves in hot water for 20 to 30 seconds.
Remove and plunge into a bowl containing ice cubes and water. Remove and dry thoroughly and very gently in a towel.
Use any of the methods above to then preserve your bright green basil
Towards the end of the season cut the branches from the basil and hang upside down, bound with twine or a rubber band. Dry them in a well ventilated room.
Alternatively they can be dried outside on a sunny day on a rack or similar structure. Cover with a thin fine cloth to prevent them from blowing away.