As you might already know, Justin and I currently have a little garden growing out in our backyard. We’ve got tomatoes (that are just now reaching the ripe stage – yay!), poblano and bell peppers, and basil. Lots and lots of basil.
Now, when fresh basil is around I do tend to find many uses for it. If you don’t already grow fresh basil at home: start doing it. You can grow it in an apartment in a pot – no need for a garden. The taste of fresh picked basil is oh so much better than the leaves you can buy at the grocery store – it’s more potent and fresh…and sweet. I love love love it! Anyway, with four plants producing leaves right now, I sometimes have a hard time keeping up with using all of my herbs. To keep picked basil leaves fresh for a few days, I place the stems in a shallow water dish and leave them sitting on my counter. I can take a few leaves at a time to season my dishes.
But what to do when I have a handful of basil leaves that I know I won’t be able to use before they wilt? Save them for later, that’s what! The whole process is really simple, and I am hoping that it will serve me well when my basil plant is no longer producing.
1. Start by separating the fresh basil leaves from their stems and thoroughly rinsing/washing the leaves. Pat dry with a clean towel/paper towel.
2. Cut the leaves into a chiffonade. I place 4-5 leaves on top of each other and roll them lengthwise, cigar-style. Then, I use a sharp knife to cut a chiffonade. Mine isn’t perfect: I’m working on it.
3. Next, distribute the cut basil into the wells of an ice cube tray. I filled my cubes about half way with the leaves.
4. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil into the wells with basil. I measure my olive oil for consistency with recipes, but you could also just fill the cubes until the basil is just covered with oil on top. You might need to use a fork/utensil to arrange the basil leaves a bit so they submerge in the oil completely.
5. When the cubes are filled, place them in the freezer (I place a lid/cover mine)! Pop a cube out when you need olive oil and herbs when cooking.
I am really digging this storage method so far. As you can see, my entire tray is not filled with basil yet. I have been adding to it gradually when I happen to have extra basil. I also love this ice cube tray I snagged at Home Goods – it is by Orka, and you can also find it at Target. The tray has a lid I can snap on top, which I appreciate – I don’t want my basil cubes out in the open if possible.
What is your all time favorite herb? Do you have any other herb preservation techniques you use?