Fresh Basil – How to Preserve It


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Preserving Fresh Basil

fresh Basil

This year I tried hydroponic gardening with fresh basil, among other herbs. I had a little success and a little learning failure. Hydroponic gardening turned out to be a better option for us than traditional gardening. See full article here. My basil went crazy so I experimented with different ways to preserve it because I just couldn’t cook with it fast enough. I discovered basil freezes pretty well. I have two plants. I froze one plant for later recipes while still enjoying fresh basil now.

If you want to harvest your basil seeds for next year, cut the flower stems off and set aside, directions below.

I tried 2 different processes. One was blanching and freezing in whole leaf form, but it was incredibly time consuming. After blanching and squeezing out the water, you have the separate the leaves, lay flat on a cookie sheet, freeze, then transfer to the container. It was like trying to separate frozen spinach.

seeds

The second method was much faster. After washing the leaves and removing from their stems, I blanched the basil in 4 batches for 10 seconds. Do not over blanch. I then added the fresh basil to ice water to stop the cooking process. Using a salad spinner to extract the excess water worked great. I spread the basil on paper towels while I went on to the next batch.

Once all the basil was done, I chopped it in a food processor with 1 TBSP olive oil. Using wax paper, I lined an 8 x 8 pan and evenly spread the basil on the bottom. Leave a little wax paper on the sides to help you lift the basil out. Freeze for about 2 hours or until just firm.

seeds

Lift basil from pan and cut into 1″ x 1″ squares. My squares equaled very close to a TBSP each of basil making each square recipe friendly. Put the basil back in the pan then back in the freezer overnight to harden completely. Transfer to an air tight, freezer-friendly, container and use as needed.

Harvesting Fresh Basil Seeds

fresh basil seed seeds

 

Once the flowers have fallen off, clip the flower stem and place in a paper bag to dry out or lay them out on paper towels, covered with another paper towel and set them aside to dry. You’ll need to let your seeds mature in their pods as the pods turn brown. Once dried, the seeds will be black and are about the size of a flea. There should be 4 seeds in each little flower pod.

Shake the bag now and then to help dislodge the seeds. You’ll have to harvest most by hand, but they come out easy. This may sound tedious, but it wasn’t. I removed the seeds as the stems dried out instead of doing it all at once.

You now have seeds from your own fresh basil plants. You know where they came from and that they are GMO free. Store in a cool dry place until ready to plant again.

Happy Gardening~ Valerie

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