Preserving Basil

Since there is ostensibly colder weather (under 40 degrees) coming soon, it is time to think about making use of any remaining warm season plants in the garden. Now temperatures between 32 and 40 will not kill most tomatoes, peppers, basil, etc, but they will be damaged. Basil especially will start getting ugly black spots on it after being exposed to cold temperatures.

So, what to do with you big, beautiful basil plants? While nothing is quite as good as fresh basil, there are several options for preserving basil. I tried a couple out last night, and I’m going to try a couple pesto recipes tonight.

Now, before you get upset because you don’t have time to make pesto tonight, don’t despair! You can pick your basil, and store it in a bucket with water or a vase, just like a bouquet of flowers. The basil will last for a few days in the water, until you can get to preserving it.

Method 1 & 2: Freezing in Water or Freezing in Oil (in Ice Cube Trays)

This is definitely the easiest way to store your basil. All you have to do is chop it up (in a food processor), then put some of the chopped basil in each well of an ice cube tray. Simply cover the basil with either water or olive oil, and stick the tray in the freezer. After the basil cubes are frozen, pop them out of the tray and into a plastic bag.

Basil Covered with Water

Frozen Basil and Olive Oil

That method is really easy enough. The basil cubes will be easy to drop into soup, sauce, salad dressing, etc.

Method 3: Layering with Salt

Really? Yes, really. I happened across this method while I was looking for pesto recipes, and I thought it was intriguing enough to try out. Supposedly storing the basil leaves in salt gives you the closest resemblance to fresh basil of any method. You layer leaves of basil with salt in an airtight container and then store it in the refrigerator until ready to use.

We just tried this with a little ramekin, since we didn’t want to use up much salt or take up much refrigerator space. We’ll see how it turns out!

Tomorrow we’ll look at making pesto and drying basil.

About Rebecca

I'm a Horticulture Educator with Sedgwick County Extension, a branch of K-State Research and Extension, located in Wichita, KS. I teach about fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

Posted on October 27, 2010, in Around the Garden, Harvesting & Eating and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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