How to Preserve Basil – Freeze, Dry, Store Basil 6 Ways

Ready to preserve basil? Here are six different ways to preserve basil.potted basil sq - watermarked

 

Six Ways How to Preserve Basil

 

There’s really only one thing to do… harvest and use your basil before the first frost. Basil is super sensitive to frost and will not survive even a little frost.

Instead of bringing it indoors here are some options for how you can preserve basil.

Store Fresh Cut Basil– make it last in your kitchen for a couple of weeks

basil bouquet l - watermarked

Hang Basil to Dry

basil hanging

Dry Basil in the Microwave

drying basil in microwave - watermarked

Dry Basil in a Dehydrator

dehydrated basil

Make Basil Pesto

basil pesto in freezer trays - watermarked

Freeze Basil

There are several ways to freeze basil. Choose a method that works best for you and how you use basil when cooking.

Freeze Basil in Oil  – Fellow Professional Home Economist Mairlyn Smith shows you how she freezes basil by chopping it and mixing with oil.

Freeze Basil Leaves – I will strip basil leaves off the stems and freeze them whole just as is – no oil, no water, no nothin’. The leaves turn very dark and will be soft and mushy when they thaw. I use them in soups, stews and pasta dishes where looks and texture don’t matter. I just want that flavor.

Freeze Massaged Basil Leaves – My friends Kelly and Leanne strip basil leaves off the stems and massage each leaf in oil and then freeze the leaves in a thin, flat layer in a freezer bag.

Can I Just Bring My Basil Inside?

basil in pot

If you’re thinking about bringing your basil plant indoors – don’t! Let me save you a lot of time, energy and frustration by being up front with you – taking your basil inside at the end of the summer usually does not work very well – not without a lot of effort anyway.

Here’s what will typically happen. You’ll bring your potted basil inside promising to love and care for it like it were your first born. Within days you’ll see your basil dropping leaves and turning yellow. You may even notice a few tiny insects in your house that you didn’t have before. Trust me, it’s not going to get any better.

Unless you’re willing to go to heroic measures (use grow lights for 7 -10 hours per day, fertilize, install a fan and water only from the bottom as required), chances are high that your basil plant will die. The worst part is, you’ll have lost your chance to harvest those gorgeous leaves at the end of summer.

Why Won’t Basil Last Indoors?

The most obvious reason is that basil is an annual plant. By it’s very nature, basil is intended to survive for only one season. Wikipedia says “An annual plant is a plant that completes its life cycle, from germination to the production of seed, within one year, and then dies.”

If you’ve had your basil plant all summer, it has done its job. It has given you the best it is has to offer. Sure, you could put it on life support, but you’ll get very little out of it.

Bringing it inside will only delay the inevitable and will cause you to miss out on the last bit of flavor your basil has left to offer you.

basil mid summer

So with all these options to choose from, how will you preserve basil?

Whatever you choose, leave a comment or if you’re a social media buff take a photo and tag it with #getgettys on Instagram. I’d love to see what you’re doing.

Sign up to get articles by Getty delivered to your inbox. You’ll get recipes, practical tips and great food information like this. Getty is a Professional Home Economist,  speaker and writer putting good food on tables and agendas.  She is the author of Manitoba’s best-selling Prairie Fruit Cookbook, Founder of Fruit Share, a mom and veggie gardener.

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4 Comments

  1. Sometimes I dry my basil by rolling the leaves loosely in a tea towel. securing the ends, and putting it in the fridge. The regular air circulation inside the fridge dries the basil out without it getting moldy or dusty (as long as it’s not squished under something else). I’ve even forgotten about it only to go back several weeks later (when I clean out the fridge and find all sorts of things I’d forgotten about) to find it perfectly dried. To store, take it out of the fridge, unroll the tea towel, let it sit in the open to dry off any surface moisture, and store like other dried basil.

    Another idea: if you happen to forget about your basil outside and it freezes, don’t throw those leaves out! Harvest them carefully, and let them dry thoroughly on a tea towel in the kitchen. Use as any other dried basil.

    1. Hi Heather,
      Thanks for the tips! I never would have thought of that technique. I guess frozen basil leaves is like freeze dried basil?!
      Getty

  2. made the basil pesto recipe yesterday, WOW! nOW I am wondering how to freese my mojito basil and food recipes for it not drinks, any ideas. My thai basil I am going to chop, add a little oil and freeze in cube trays. thank you.

    1. Hi A,
      If using the mojito basil in drinks, maybe you could try freezing it in ice cube trays with water. Or, perhaps you could dry it and use it in tea and dessert recipes? Good luck. Glad you enjoyed the pesto recipe!

      Getty

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