August 11, 2021

How to freeze basil in olive oil

Frozen cubes of Thai basil in olive oilSave your garden basil to use all year round by freezing it in olive oil. This method blends up the basil leaves and freezes it in ice cubes to preserve the fresh basil flavor to enjoy even in winter.
 
If you have basil in your garden, this is a terrific method to save it to use all year. I use this for any basil I have in my herb garden - Italian basil, Thai basil, lemon basil, large leaf basil, cinnamon basil, purple basil, etc. Any basil that you have and love the fresh flavor of in your dishes can be preserved this way. 
 
Since the basil is puréed in olive oil, you add the cubes toward the end of cooking your dish just to heat through and keep the fresh flavor. It's not whole leaves or crumbled pieces of herbs like in other preservation methods.
 
This method uses a blender to purée the basil while you slowly drizzle in olive oil. You add just enough olive oil to get the basil to blend up into a pour-able consistency. Then you pour the liquid into an ice cube tray, freeze it for a few hours, and then pop the cubes into a freezer bag.
 
I had heard about this method for preserving basil for a few years and I was skeptical of it because of the oil. I thought it would make the dish a little too oily or greasy. But, this has not been the case for me. You do want to make sure you only add the minimum amount needed to get the basil to blend. You can see in the photo above that the cubes are mainly green in color and not yellow from a lot of oil.
 
I use regular olive oil for this. Extra virgin is not necessary, although you can probably use it just fine. The oil helps to retain the flavor of the herbs and it also melts quickly when you put the cubes into your recipe.
 
Thai basil leaves in a blender.
 
The result is that you have a perfect amount of fresh basil to toss into a dish right at the end just to allow the cube to melt and warm through. In these photos I used my Thai basil plant and I'll put the cubes into green curry, noodles, and other Thai dishes all year long when I don't have access to fresh Thai basil. Since the basil is puréed and you put it in at the end of cooking, the flavor is still very bright and fresh.
 
You can do this with Italian and large leaf basils to add to pasta and pizza sauces and soups through the winter. Or any other dishes where you enjoy fresh basil. One to two cubes adds enough of the bright basil flavor to your recipe. 

Of course, I also dry a lot of my garden herbs. However, the flavor of basil changes a lot when drying. I use Italian basil dried in pizza and pasta sauces, etc. However, Thai basil is one where this method of freezing in olive oil results in the best preservation in my opinion. 
 
Thai basil puree in an ice cube tray.
 
You can use any amount of basil you have on hand. If my basil is doing really well like this summer, I'll do this a couple times throughout the growing season. If they aren't doing as well that year, I'll pluck off all the leaves that are left at the end of the growing season and do this with anything left before the frost comes. 
 
Sometimes I make a whole tray of cubes, and sometimes I may bet only two or three cubes. This is a simple way to ensure your garden basil does not go to waste. And you can add cubes to your bag throughout the season.

Can you do this technique with other fresh herbs? Yes! I usually dry the others because I use the dried varieties of herbs like oregano, thyme, rosemary, parsley, etc. a lot. I will dry some basil as well. But, I think parsley and oregano would work well with this method and even mint. It just depends how you like to use your herbs in cooking. Also, you want to do this with herbs that have larger and softer leaves. 

Frozen Thai basil cubes in a labeled frzzer bag.

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August is National Canning Month! Today a few blogging friends and I are sharing ideas for Preserving Summer's Bounty. I do water bath canning this time of year, but I also do a lot of freezing of things that cannot be canned. Since I have a large herb garden, preserving herbs is always on my summer and early fall to-do list.

Yield: varies
Author: Amy (Savory Moments)
How to Freeze Basil in Olive Oil

How to Freeze Basil in Olive Oil

Save your garden basil to use all year round by freezing it in olive oil. This method blends up the basil leaves and freezes it in ice cubes to preserve the fresh basil flavor to enjoy even in winter.

Ingredients

  • Fresh basil of your choice
  • Olive oil

Instructions

  1. Rinse your basil well and shake off excess water. Remove all the leaves from the stems. Place leaves in the blender.
  2. With the blender on high (or the purée setting), begin to very slowly drizzle olive oil into the blender (using the removable section of the blender lid to reduce splatter).
  3. Stop the blender as needed and use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the blender and/or stir up the leaves.
  4. Continue running and drizzling just until the mixture begins to purée and turn into a liquid. Run the blender until the mixture is smooth.
  5. Pour into an ice cube tray being careful to not over fill. Freeze for 3-5 hours, or until the cubes will easily pop out. Transfer the cubes to a freezer bag, label, and put in the freezer.
  6. Grab 1-2 cubes and place them into your dish towards the end of cooking to melt, as desired.

Notes:

I highly recommend using an ice cube tray specific for this task and not one that you make your ice in. Residual oil or herb flavor could get into your ice. I have a separate tray that I use for tasks like this.

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I hope you give this idea a try to preserve some summer basil. Let me know in the comments below.

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Collage of a photo of fresh Thai basil, Thai basil and olove oil pureed in a blender, and then Thai basil frozen cubes.

If you are looking for others ways to preserve your garden herbs, check out this tutorial for How to Dry Garden Herbs in the Oven.

Check out these recipe ideas for using fresh garden herbs

Chive Blossom Deviled Eggs

Thai Basil Cucumber Salad

Parsley & Sage Walnut Pesto  

Cheddar & Thyme Yellow Squash Biscuits

Dill Pickle Quick Bread

Here are some other recipe ideas from other bloggers today to help you get inspired for Preserving the Summer Bounty!

9 comments:

  1. I will have to try this method. I have always dried my basil but the seems like it would give a fresher basil flavor.

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  2. It's one of my favourite way to preserve herbs. Easy and very practical.

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  3. Great advice about olive oil, thanks for sharin' 💚🙂

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  4. I have tons of basil at the moment, so I should get freezing. Terrific idea -- thanks.

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  5. This is a great method for preserving basil! I've been doing it for many years because I don't like dried basil at all and making pesto then freezing it didn't work.It turned dark when it thawed. The only difference between your method and mine is that I do add a little garlic and salt. But then I add garlic to most everything. :) So glad you are sharing this with others. It's such a great idea! I've never tried it with other herbs, but I should.

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  6. I agree with you and others, this is a great way to preserve fresh herbs. Now that I live in Florida, I can grow herbs most all year long but when we lived in New England, this is what I used to do to extend enjoying herbs from my garden through the long winters.

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  7. Great idea. I make pesto and freeze, but this gives many options to include in many other recipes. Awesome!

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  8. This is so great! I definitely need to try this.

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