Basil is a prolific herb that grows easily in a summer pot garden. Whether you enjoy licorice flavored Thai basils, clove-like Holy basil, peppery bush basil or the citrus scented basils, all can be preserved in the freezer. Frozen basil will not have the same texture as fresh, but the flavor is preserved for your favorite soup or pesto recipes.
Harvest basil leaves in the morning after the dew has dried but before the sun is hot. Keep basil plants free from flowers for best flavor and to force the plant to produce more leaves. Inspect leaves and brush off dirt and insects. Avoid washing the leaves as the oil will not coat wet leaves and can cause freezer burn. Strip off the stems and discard or compost any damaged leaves.
Method 1: Preserving Whole Leaves
Place a handful of leaves into a zipper bag. Arrange the leaves in an even layer no more than three or four leaves deep.
Drizzle olive oil into the bag, just enough to coat the leaves. Gently pat the oil around to evenly coat the basil leaves.
Place the packet in the freezer on a flat surface until frozen. Break off pieces as needed for your recipes.
Method 2: Preserving Chopped Basil
Use a clean scissors to snip the basil into small pieces useful for your favorite recipes.
Pack the basil leaves into a clean ice cube tray. Drizzle olive oil over the leaves while pressing with a fork to coat all the leaves. Use just enough to cover the leaves, about 1 part oil to 4 part leaves. Transfer leaves from another slot as they settle into the cube tray.
Freeze the basil cubes until solid, about 24 hours. Pop them out of the tray and transfer into a zipper storage bag.
Frozen basil cubes will hold their flavor for about one year. Simply drop the frozen cubes into your recipe at the same time you would add fresh basil leaves.
Use a dedicated ice cube tray for preserving basil leaves. Most trays are top rack dishwasher safe.