There are some herbs that I think are pretty decent when dried (what’s up, sage), but others, like basil, parsley and cilantro, just aren’t even worth it to use dried, in my opinion. That is why I try to make sure to freeze up the fresh herbs when they are coming off in the summer to use all winter long. Making minestrone? Toss a couple of cubes of frozen basil in, and BAM, it tastes like August. Same goes for marinara sauce. Having frozen cubes of basil is like a time machine to summer.
A lot of people freeze basil in pesto form, and that’s totally fine, but I like the simplicity and flexibility of just freezing basil solo. It’s a breeze to do, and you can do as much or as little as you want at a time. Basil plants grow better when you’re constantly picking from them—so every few weeks, do a heavy harvest, freeze the bounty, and then repeat until your freezer is stocked with fresh-frozen herbs. Let me show you how to freeze basil, and just how simple it is.
First up, you gotta do some picking. I tend to clip whole stems from my basil plants (seriously, those babies are huge), but you could also just pick individual leaves. If you do choose to clip whole stems, you’ll want to pick off all the leaves and then compost the woody stems. If it’s one of the thinner, tender stems toward the top of the plant, you are fine to leave it intact.
Don’t worry if the leaves aren’t in perfect shape. A few brown spots aren’t going to hurt anyone. Once you have all your leaves off, wash and dry your basil. I like to just fill a sink with cold water, swish the leaves around, and then dry them in a salad spinner. Get the tutorial »