It’s hard to beat fresh basil, but frozen basil is surprisingly not far off! And, in my opinion, it knocks the socks off dried basil.
Every year I freeze my excess basil so that I can add this herbaceous delight to my meals all winter long.
I want to share with you a method that makes harvesting, freezing and using frozen basil a freaking breeze.
Ready to prep your pantry for some effortlessly delicious meals?
Basil plants will produce more leaves if you harvest them regularly. With this method, harvest little bits of basil throughout the season — no more waiting all year for one big harvest!
Snip basil at the stem, just above the point where leaves are poking out of either side of the stem. When you cut here, the basil will put energy into creating two branches where there was only one before, and that is what gets you an enormously bushy basil plant.
Pinch the leaves off of the stem and rinse them under cool water to clean off any dirt or debris.
Shake off any excess water, then place basil on a kitchen towel to dry. Speed up the process by patting the leaves dry, or allow the air to evaporate at its own pace.
Once you’ve got 10-20 leaves layered, roll the leaves up into a compact spiral.
Take your basil roll and pop it into a small or medium freezer bag. Repeat the layering and rolling process with the rest of your basil. Once the basil is all tucked away into the freezer bag, suck or squeeze out the excess air and pop it in the freezer.
Now you have perfectly portioned basil ready to pluck out of the freezer at a moment’s notice! You can make pesto on a whim, or elevate pastas, soups, pizzas and more with a few chops of a knife.
As you harvest throughout the season, you can continue adding basil rolls into the same freezer bag, or start a new one for each harvest. Either way will do.
Best Ways to Use Frozen Basil
- Blended basil cubes: Take a bunch of basil rolls, toss them in a blender with olive oil and pour the puree into ice cube trays. Freeze the cubes. Pop out frozen cubes into an airtight container to store them in the freezer. This versatile cube is ready to melt into sauces and quiches or be elevated into pesto.
- Pizza: Let a basil roll defrost for a minute. Pull apart the leaves and place them in concentric circles around your homemade pizza. I like to place leaves over the sauce but under the cheese so that the leaves don’t burn while the ‘za cooks.
- Pasta, soup, quiche, omelette, etc.: Take as many basil rolls as you want and snip them into strips with scissors or slice with a knife. Sprinkle into a sauce, or on top of the meal as a garnish.
- Pesto: All those little harvests of basil will add up to a mighty pesto! Take a bunch of basil rolls and blend them into your favorite pesto recipe. Get creative by blending in different herbs, like parsley (you can freeze this too!).
The opportunities for frozen basil are endless, and I’m sure you’ll dream up more. The only downside compared to fresh is the texture. Freezing leaves breaks the cell walls of the plant, which means it will no longer have a crisp texture. But other than texture, frozen basil really live up to fresh!