Preserving Herbs

So Much Basil!!

Basil by Midwest Gardening

Every year my produce yields are totally different. This year I have so much basil!

I use a lot of basil in the summer for cooking, on sandwiches, in salads, pesto and endless caprese when the tomatoes come in. But a very poor yield last year led me to plant extra basil this year. So of course every plant is thriving and producing faster than I can possibly keep up with. So, time to preserve some, and some chive and rosemary while I'm at it.

My basil plants are nearing an overgrown condition and would already be bitter had I not been consistently pinching of the flowerheads as soon as they appear. So I need to snip young growth off the top for preserving and then thin out the plants by cutting out large branches to a third.

Prune and thin the basil by Midwest Gardening

Give the basil and good washing. I don't use chemicals so a good rinse to remove soil splash is adequate.

Wash the basil by Midwest Gardening

Give the basil a good shaking, use a salad spinner if you have one, and spread them out to dry so they don't gum up when you shred them.

Drying the basil by Midwest Gardening

Sort through the foliage to remove the large bitter leaves and any damaged leaves. Your compost heap will love these.

Damaged basil by Midwest Gardening

Do you have one of these herb scissors??!! You really need one! I use mine all the time. Look for one with 5 tines, not just 3.

Herb scissors by Midwest Gardening

Shred up a nice pile. If you don't have an herb scissor of course you can use a good sharp chef's knife to chop the basil.

Shredded basil by Midwest Gardening

Who has ice trays anymore? Where the heck are all my old ice trays that I’m sure I saved for this purpose? Fortunately I have a lot of these little containers, but an ice tray is definitely better. Put a nice little pile in each and add just enough olive oil to cover. You can use water if you prefer, or some of each. It really depends on what you are saving the basil for. Preserved in olive oil is great for sautees or pasta. Preserved in water works better for soups, sauces and stews, and will freeze quick and firm. But either can really work for anything, make the choice based on the way you cook.

Basil and Olive oil by Midwest Gardening

Freeze til firm, which shouldn’t take to long.

Freeze the Basil by Midwest Gardening

Pop them out and store them in a sealed freezer bag.

Store the basil by Midwest Gardening

I am also freezing some bags of loose shredded basil. I like to be able to take a sprinkling at a time to add to spaghetti and sauces. It won’t look pretty when you take some out this winter but it will taste just fine in a sauce.

Shredded Basil to freeze by Midwest Gardening

As long as I am making a mess in the kitchen I will chop up some chives. The herb scissor is excellent for "dicing" up chive leaves.

Diced chive to freeze by Midwest Gardening

And always, I freeze rosemary. Whole sprigs go right into a freezer bag and they are as good as fresh all winter. I think rosemary freezes best of anything I have ever preserved. I snip up rosemary on roasted vegetables all winter.

Sharon DwyerComment