How to Freeze Basil

If your green thumb has given you a big harvest of basil, it can be helpful to know how to preserve it for using later. While drying basil is a great option, freezing it can be a quicker alternative if you have enough space in your freezer, that’s the reason why you should learn how to freeze basil.

Frozen basil retains its fresh flavor and rich green color longer, so we’ll walk you through how to freeze basil leaves whole, puréed, or packed in oil.

To freeze basil, you have to prepare it, and then flash-freeze it, blanch it, or process it, depending on the method you choose, and finally place it in the freezer.

Read on to learn how you can have delicious basil for months to come!

If your green thumb has given you a big harvest of basil, it can be helpful to know how to preserve it to using later. While drying basil is a great option, freezing it can be a quicker alternative if you have enough space in your freezer!

How to Harvest Basil

How to Freeze Basil

While you can simply harvest basil by plucking off a few leaves, there are some tricks you can use to ensure optimal flavor after freezing them. If you already have your basil ready to be frozen, you can still use it, but the flavor will be less intense. The next time you want to harvest fresh basil from your herb garden, you can follow these guidelines and taste the difference.

Harvesting the leaves at the right time is one of the most commonly overlooked factors in herb harvest. The best time to get your basil is right before it begins to bloom, as that’s when the plant gives off the most intense flavor. In fact, you should keep an eye out for flower buds and remove them to encourage leaf growth.

Mid-morning on a warm day is the best time to harvest basil. Right after the morning dew evaporates from the leaves and before the sun can cause any wilting, it’s when the essential oils that give the basil leaves their characteristic flavor are at their strongest.

Use a pair of clean scissors that you’ve previously sanitized with rubbing alcohol to remove a few stems from the basil plant. Cut the stems from the top of the plant and just above a growth node or set of leaves. Harvesting from the top will not only give you the freshest leaves and encourage bushier, fuller growth.

Now that you have some nice basil leaves or stems, it’s time to prepare them for drying!

Prepare Fresh Basil

Whether you’re drying herbs or freezing them, the correct preparation of the leaves helps ensure the best results and flavor.

  1. Remove all of the leaves from the stems, and discard those that have brown spots or big holes in them.
  2. Thoroughly rinse the remaining leaves in cool water. You can use a salad spinner to do the job more effectively. If you don’t own one, simply submerge the leaves in a bowl of water and swish them around.
  3. Use paper towels to pat them dry and remove excess moisture.
  4. Spread the leaves on a flat surface and air dry them for at least 30 minutes.

Now, you can choose any of the following techniques to freeze your fresh basil leaves.

How to Freeze Fresh Basil

How to Freeze Basil

The blanching method is the “official” way of drying basil. This means that when you search online for how to freeze basil, this will most likely pop up first.

So, for this, you’re going to need a slotted spoon, a pot of boiling water, and a bowl of ice water. Once you have those ready, this is what you have to do:

  1. Add the basil leaves to the boiling water and blanch them for about 5 to 10 seconds. You don’t want to blanch them for longer than this, so try to be as precise as possible.
  2. Use the slotted spoon to quickly transfer the leaves to the ice water and stop the cooking process. It’s important that the slotted spoon fits into the pot, as you need to have the basil in something that allows you to quickly remove it all at once.
  3. Lay the leaves on a paper towel on top of a plate, and pat them dry or let them air dry for about 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Once the leaves are completely dry, place them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Make sure that they aren’t touching each other, so they don’t freeze in a clump. If you have a large number of leaves, freeze them in two batches.
  5. Flash-freeze the leaves. This involves placing the baking tray in the freezer for 30 minutes, or until the basil is completely frozen.
  6. Remove the tray from the freezer and transfer the leaves to a zip-lock bag or freezer-safe container. Try not to take too long, as they’ll thaw and start wilting within seconds.

This technique will yield the brightest color, but bear in mind that if leaves are blanched just a few seconds too long, they’ll turn brown.

How to Freeze Basil Leaves Quickly

The easiest and fastest way to freeze fresh basil is to place the leaves in a storage bag is to simply layer the leaves in a zip-lock bag, or freezer-safe container and place them in your freezer. You should make sure that they’re fully dry before freezing them to prevent freezer burn and to prevent them from sticking together.

The other option will allow you to grab a single piece of basil when you’re ready to use it, without needing to thaw a whole batch. Lay the dry basil out in a single layer on a baking sheet, and then slide the tray into the freezer. Once the leaves are ready and super cold, approximately after 30 minutes, take them out of the freezer and transfer them to an airtight bag or freezer-safe container.

How to Freeze Puréed Basil

Puréeing and then freezing your fresh basil leaves can be a great idea if you want to make basil vinaigrette, pesto, or soup or stew flavored with basil later. This is all you have to do:

  1. Grab your food processor and place 1 or 2 handfuls of basil in the food processor bowl, making sure you don’t pack the leaves too tightly.
  2. Drizzle 2 or 3 tablespoons (45 ml) of olive oil over the basil. While this step is optional, adding olive oil will give help the basil retain flavor and moisture, and stop it from darkening when it is frozen.
  3.  Use the “pulse” setting of your food processor to chop the basil to obtain coarsely chopped leaves. If you prefer making a paste, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to set your food processor.
  4. Spoon the chopped basil into a zip-lock bag or freezer-safe container.

What we liked about frozen basil purée is that it can be thawed in a few minutes and made into pesto by adding garlic, Parmesan cheese, and nuts!

How to Freeze Basil in Olive Oil

How to Freeze Basil

Freezing basil in olive oil is perfect for when you want to make soups, marinara, or pasta sauces. Ice cube trays work perfectly for this. We often like to use silicone ice cube trays for hassle-free release of the basil cubes.

Here’s what you have to do to freeze basil in olive oil:

  1. Use a sharp knife to slice the basil leaves thinly. This might take a while, depending on how large your batch of basil is. To get the job done more efficiently, we recommend stacking the leaves and rolling them to be able to cut through multiple leaves at once.
  2. Divide the chopped leaves into the ice cube tray.
  3. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over each cube of basil, just enough to cover the leaves, or cover them with cold water. You might need to push the leaves down into the oil or water to make sure they’re completely covered by the liquid.
  4. Place the trays in the freezer for about a few hours.
  5. Once the cubes have hardened, pop them out of the mold, and transfer them to a zip-lock bag or freezer-safe container. Then, put them back in the freezer.

Each cube roughly amounts to 1 tbsp. (15 ml), so it’s easy to add them to most recipes. For example, if the instructions call for 3 tbsp. (45 ml) of basil, you just need to toss 3 cubes into the bowl or pot. You might notice that the pieces of frozen basil start to darken as soon as they thaw, but don’t worry! That’s completely normal, and they will still taste like basil.

How to Freeze Basil

If your green thumb has given you a big harvest of basil, it can be helpful to know how to preserve it to using later. While drying basil is a great option, freezing it can be a quicker alternative if you have enough space in your freezer!
No ratings yet
Prep Time 10 mins
Freeze Time 2 hrs
Total Time 2 hrs 10 mins
Course Preparation
Cuisine Asian, Mediterranean
Servings 4
Calories 400 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 bunch basil fresh
  • 45 ml olive oil

Instructions
 

How to Freeze Fresh Basil

  • Boil enough water in a pot to submerge all your basil.
    1 bunch basil
  • Add the basil leaves to the boiling water and blanch them for about 5 to 10 seconds. You don’t want to blanch them for longer than this, so try to be as precise as possible.
  • Use the slotted spoon to quickly transfer the leaves to the ice water and stop the cooking process. It’s important that the slotted spoon fits into the pot, as you need to have the basil in something that allows you to quickly remove it all at once.
  • Lay the leaves on a paper towel on top of a plate, and pat them dry or let them air dry for about 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Once the leaves are completely dry, place them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Make sure that they aren’t touching each other, so they don’t freeze in a clump. If you have a large number of leaves, freeze them in two batches.
  • Flash-freeze the leaves. This involves placing the baking tray in the freezer for 30 minutes, or until the basil is completely frozen.
  • Remove the tray from the freezer and transfer the leaves to a zip-lock bag or freezer-safe container. Try not to take too long, as they’ll thaw and start wilting within seconds.

How to Freeze Puréed Basil

  • Grab your food processor and place 1 or 2 handfuls of basil in the food processor bowl, making sure you don’t pack the leaves too tightly.
    1 bunch basil
  • Drizzle 2 or 3 tablespoons (45 ml) of olive oil over the basil. While this step is optional, adding olive oil will give help the basil retain flavor and moisture, and stop it from darkening when it is frozen.
    45 ml olive oil
  • Use the “pulse” setting of your food processor to chop the basil to obtain coarsely chopped leaves. If you prefer making a paste, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to set your food processor.
  • Spoon the chopped basil into a zip-lock bag or freezer-safe container.

How to Freeze Basil in Olive Oil

  • Use a sharp knife to slice the basil leaves thinly. This might take a while, depending on how large your batch of basil is. To get the job done more efficiently, we recommend stacking the leaves and rolling them to be able to cut through multiple leaves at once.
    1 bunch basil
  • Divide the chopped leaves into the ice cube tray.
  • Drizzle a bit of olive oil over each cube of basil, just enough to cover the leaves, or cover them with cold water. You might need to push the leaves down into the oil or water to make sure they’re completely covered by the liquid.
    45 ml olive oil
  • Place the trays in the freezer for about a few hours.
  • Once the cubes have hardened, pop them out of the mold, and transfer them to a zip-lock bag or freezer-safe container. Then, put them back in the freezer.

Nutrition

Calories: 400kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 1gFat: 45gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 33gSodium: 1mgPotassium: 24mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 422IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 15mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Herbs
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Conclusion

There’s nothing like basil on pizza or pasta, but it’s even better when you can have the pleasure of using fresh basil even in the colder months.

Hopefully, this article has taught you everything you need to know to harvest the leaves yourself to encourage plant growth and how to preserve them for later.

Now it’s just a matter of trying the different techniques yourself and decide which works the best for you!

Charlotte King

Over the last 8 years, I have been perfecting my skills in preserving food! From canning, to drying, to freezing, and brining, I've done it all. Using this information, I create informative posts on CannedNation to help you on your food preservation journey!

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