Best Ways To Freeze Basil
Freezing basil can be very useful as basil is mostly a summer plant and its leaves dry completely in the winter. The soil needs to be warmed up nicely, and then only basil can grow in it. To solve this problem, freeze basil in your house during the summer, and you can have fresh green basil leaves throughout the year.
Basil is an herb obtained from the plant Ocimumbasilicum L. (sweet basil) and is from the mint family. The plant is small in size and grows up to 100cm. It is widely popular in Asia, America, and Africa.
It is very much loved in India as well for its aroma and medicinal values. Basil is a kitchen herb and is mostly grown in houses in small pots or vessels. The plant does not require much effort to grow and is very low maintenance but is extremely sensitive to frost. It best grows in warm and humid conditions.
For most of India and the world, the winters are chilling cold, and hence the plant dries down easily. Thus, the leaves of this plant can be collected and stored for around a year by following the methods we will discuss now.
Methods To Freeze Basil
Out of so many methods available online, only a few are useful. Here we will get to know about the tried and tested ones that are beneficial.
Also, it is very important to know that we must not lose the qualities and medicinal values while freezing the basil. These methods also ensure that and hence are reliable.
1. Blanched Leaves –
Blanching is a process in which a vegetable or herb is immersed in boiling water for 2-3 minutes and then is immediately transferred to an ice water bath.
For basil leaves, collect the leaves and clean them. Then put them in boiling water for 5-10 seconds, which is enough for basil. Transfer the blanched leaves into an ice water bath. Dry the leaves thoroughly and flash freeze them for about a day. The leaves are then ready to be stored.
Though it is one of the easiest processes, the drawback is that the leaves are very delicate, and hence if they are kept in the boiling water for few more seconds, they turn brown and lose their smell.
2. Washed Leaves –
In this method, collect and clean the leaves. Wash it with normal water and lay it on a tray to dry them completely. Freeze them for a day or half until they are firm enough to be stored. Then transfer the leaves to a freezer bag and make it airtight.
This method again doesn’t require much work, but they thaw very quickly. Comparing blanched and unblanched leaves, the blanched one stay fresh for a longer time.
3. Directly Freezing the Leaves –
As mentioned in the ‘Washed Leaves’ method, follow the same procedure. Wash the leaves and dry them completely, then directly store them in a ziplock bag without flash-freezing them.
Unblanched leaves are frozen best using this method. The leaves stay in their natural green colour for a longer time, and also this method is very easy.
4. Chopped and Oil Coated Leaves –
This method is one of the most popular methods to freeze basil. It is widely used, and people review it to be very useful in storing basil.
In this method, we need to wash and dry the leaves as earlier. Then we have to chop the leaves coarsely in a food processor, or a knife can work as well. The chopped leaves are then sprinkled with a little amount of olive oil.
The leaves and olive oil are then mixed well so that each of the pieces gets well coated with the oil. Then we have to take an ice tray and put the mixture in the tray, add a little water, and freeze.
The cubes once frozen can be transferred in a freezer bag or a ziplock bag. The cubes’ size will vary according to the size of the tray and so, try to have an idea as one tablespoon of fresh basil leaves is equivalent to how many cubes.
It is a full-proof method to freeze basil if you want that natural green colour of the leaves even after many days.
Tips To Perfectly Freeze Basil
Though the methods mentioned above are easy to follow, sometimes it becomes a bit tricky to get your frozen basil perfectly. To ace, the method of freezing basil, follow these simple tips and it can work wonders.
- The leaves need to be removed from the main stem or from a thick stem to use them and pulling the leaves off the stem using fingers is the best way to do so.
- Use a colander to wash the leaves thoroughly to get rid of all the dirt and even chemicals, if any. A salad spinner can also be used for this step.
- Well, most of the time, it is hard to maintain the bright green colour for a long time but, the ‘Chopped and Oil Coated Leaves’ method works wonders in that case.
- All the methods discussed here are for freezing basil. But, in case you decide to store them in the cupboard, which is at room temperatures, then make sure that oil is not added to it and if you do so, the chances of food poisoning increases.
- For using the frozen basil in dishes where heat will be used, there is no need to thaw the frozen leaves separately. It can be directly put into the dish, and it will melt there only.
- The cube form of frozen basil is much easier to use in soups and stews than in any other dish. So better to choose the method to freeze basil according to the use and the dish you will make.
Uses Of Frozen Basil
Basil is one such herb which is famous for its fragrance. It is widely used in Italian food. Dishes like pesto is made with basil. Soups, stew, chicken, salad, pizza all go well with basil, and delicious dishes can be made by combining the items with basil leaves.
Also, Mediterranean countries like India use basil in their cuisines.