It happens every summer- you plant a basil plant or two and before you know it, you are overrun with fresh basil, burnt out on eating it and have no idea how to preserve it for the winter. Most tip articles recommend using olive oil but I’m not comfortable using that much oil at the end of my meal when I typically add basil.
So I tested out using just water and it worked! Now I used about 3-4 cups of loosely packed, fresh basil leaves and about 1/4 cup of water, so plan on using 1 tablespoon of water per one cup of basil leaves. (I have not tested this out with any other herbs yet, so I don’t know how this method works on other plants.)
How to Freeze Basil Without Oil
Start by pruning your basil plants to promote growth. If you have an outdoor plant, I recommend doing this outside only because of all the little bugs that may call your plant home will scatter and you don’t want them in your kitchen. Give your trimmings a good inspection before bringing them in to the house in case any bugs stuck around (I don’t spray my plants with anything other than a little soap mixed with water to keep the bugs at bay. It does a good job with caterpillars and ants but not so much with grasshoppers.)
Back in the kitchen, give your basil a good rinse. I like to submerge mine and swish it around to get all dirt off. I’ll do this a couple of times. Then pluck off the leaves. (Do this with intent. You will be using these herbs in the future, don’t accidentally spoil your meal in 3 months with ill-intent today.)
Fill your food processor with the leaves and water (ratio 1 cup of loosely packed leaves to 1 tablespoon water) and pulse until you have everything chopped and mixed. Spoon the mixture into ice cube trays. (I do about 2-3 teaspoons per cube.) Freeze until firm and use like you would fresh in sauces and soups.
I’ve been told you can freeze whole leaves in freezer bags but have not tried it yet.
I hope this method helps another basil lover who wants fresh basil taste year-round!
Until next time, blessed be.