Basil is a fragrant and beloved herb that comes in many varieties for both culinary and medicinal use. There’s nothing like the flavor of fresh basil to completely transform a dish into something special, and that’s why you should have plenty of it growing in your herb garden whenever possible. It’s even great for indoor growing. But what happens when you have more basil than you can use? Believe it or not, it can happen! It’s easy to preserve basil (and really all herbs) for the long term and enjoy its fresh flavor year-round.
Drying Basil for Long Term Storage
There are several ways to dry basil quickly and easily, including using your microwave, air-drying, and using a dehydrator. This is a very easy method of preserving basil, and the primary benefit is that storage doesn’t rely on electricity or any extra equipment. We’ve got a detailed guide to drying and preserving herbs for more details. This is an especially good option for holy basil or basil you’re using in herbal tea. Both basil and cilantro tend to lose a lot of their flavor when dried, so if you have access to a freeze dryer, you may choose to use that for drying to preserve more garden-fresh flavor.
To lock in more of that garden-fresh flavor, you can freeze your basil. Clean, dry them, and freeze the leaves in a single layer on a baking sheet. Transfer to an airtight container for later use. Another method is to blend basil with a little olive oil, butter, or oil. Freeze the paste - ice cube trays are the perfect size for this. You can also create pesto and freeze it in appropriate serving sizes.
To create an herb oil that locks in that tasty basil flavor, all you have to do is blend basil with olive oil in a food processor until it’s smooth. Allow it to sit for a few days, then strain it through a fine sieve. Store the oil sealed in the fridge.
Another way to preserve the flavor of basil for long-term use is by creating herbed vinegar. Fill a jar with clean basil leaves, heat white wine vinegar until warm (not boiling), and pour over the basil. Seal and allow to sit for 2-3 weeks, then strain and transfer to a clean bottle.
As you can see, there's no need to waste a single basil leaf out of your harvest, even when it seems overwhelming. Experiment to find what methods you prefer to enjoy the fresh flavor of home-grown herbs year-round.