Remove basil leaves from stems. Immerse them in a cool water bath and swish to remove debris and any bugs that may have hitch-hiked inside.
Fill your salad spinner with washed leaves and gently spin dry. (Doing this in smaller batches will help to remove the water droplets better.) Lay leaves out on clean, dry towels to finish drying. You can speed this up by gently patting the leaves with another clean, dry towel.
Once leaves are completely dry, fill a small or medium freezer bag about three quarters full. (A non-zip freezer bag works best for this.)
Gather up the neck of the bag tightly in the circle between thumb and forefinger. With finger from other hand, make a small opening in the neck of the bag. Blow air into the bag until it is fully extended to its limits. Quickly squeeze the neck of the bag shut to trap the air inside, and tie the bag shut securely with a twist tie.
Label the bag with the date, and type of basil species if you prefer. Place in the freezer.
Note: Be sure to keep all of your frozen basil at the top of your chest freezer. Piling anything on top of them risks expulsion of air from the bags, thus damaging your basil supply.
Frozen basil leaves will keep for a year, or more…but best to use up this year’s supply and replenish your stock with fresh leaves you freeze for the following winter’s use. (But good to know it will keep, just in case you do have a crop failure next year. Heaven forbid!)
Oh…and when you go to use your frozen basil leaves…open the bag and remove the amount needed for your recipe. Immediately, blow air into the bag following the method noted above, and secure the bag shut once again. Place the bag back in the freezer right away before the remaining leaves thaw.
Article submitted by Leslie Cox
CVHS member and writer as the “Duchess of Dirt”