Heaven on Earth

Heaven on Earth

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Beautiful, Bountiful, Basil

There is nothing like fresh basil in sauces, pastas, over eggs, in mayonnaise for sandwich spread, in dips, and I could go on and on and on.  Purchased fresh basil is very expensive.  I love basil so I plant a lot of it in my garden every spring.  It's so economical to grow your own.  All you need is a sunny spot in your garden or a small pot on your porch or a window.
You'll probably want to put some by for use this fall and winter.  My favorite way to do this is to make pesto (Italian for paste) with real Parmesan cheese. I've posted about this before but if you missed it, you can find it here.

I made 3 batches this weekend and froze that pesto for winter.

Sometimes, when my basil patch is exploding, I take my excess basil and freeze it plain.   After picking the basil, I fill a clean sink with cold water and submerge the stems.  Swish the stems around gently, letting any dirt or bugs fall to the bottom.  Remove the stems, change the water and repeat 3 times.  Spin or air dry the basil and remove the leaves, discarding the stems.
Roll a handful of leaves together tightly like a cigar, with the smaller leaves in the middle. 
With a very sharp knife, chiffonade the roll.  Isn't chiffonade a great word?  It just means to slice the roll into very thin strips or shreds. Basil will bruise and turn a bit dark but the sharper the knife, the less bruising there will be.  Chop the strips finely...
and place the basil into ice cube trays and fill the cells with water.  Freeze the cubes until the water is solid and pop them out of the cells and into freezer bags. 

Pure unadulterated basil. 
I plop a whole cube into simmering soups and sauces in the colder months, after my garden is put to bed.  It's tastes as good as fresh basil and so much better than the freeze fried leaves. 
The cubes aren't pretty by themselves but then no one but the cook sees them in that state and they add such a pop of fresh flavor to anything you cook.

Actually, it's like having a bit of summer in the freezer.


  1. Gosh, I wish you were here to prod me along with the finer points of basil. I plant a plant every year, then I watch it struggle as I fail to use it. ;-( Freezing some for soups and stews in the winter is a great idea though -- maybe now I'll do some cutting! ;-D

  2. I love this, I have a whole lot of basil in the yard. Have already made pesto so now I am following your recipe for freezing basil for the winter.....thanks always.

  3. Hi Bonnie! You make everything sound so easy! You're a good teacher!

  4. I've got to try the ice cube tray freezing technique! I've heard of this method for cilantro and was hoping to try with some home grown, but it's just not happening. But,I do have a good crop of basil this year!!
    Bonnie, have you smelled the wonderful aroma of basil stirred-up by the winds before a storm!! Ahhhhh.....

  5. Your're so smart with your freezing technique! Love that idea.

  6. I love me some fresh basil. I especially like it with fresh tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, and salt -- steeped all day in a bowl on the counter and they poured over fresh, hot, buttered pasta! Add parmesan on top!

    Love the basil ice cube idea. I'll have to remember that.

  7. Bonnie, I love pesto and always grow basil in my parent's pickle crock -- it thrives there. I never put any away for the winter, but I know I would love to have some fresh tasting basil in the winter. I never buy the kind in the grocery store (well, in CA where we used to live it was inexpensive). I hope you are enjoying your summer and your gardens. Joni