Other than pesto, is there a way to store or preserve fresh basil without it turning brown, and without drying it? Is it true it can be frozen? If so, can you tell me how to freeze basil?
My Italian grandfather was a passionate gardener, and my grandmother made enough pesto each summer to keep us eating green well into the winter. She also liked to freeze basil leaves for other uses.
To freeze basil, you can simply toss your basil leaves into a zip-top plastic bag and cross your fingers, but for the best results, you’ll want to blanch the leaves first. This helps preserve the color. First, wash your basil stems, then dry them and remove the leaves. Plunge the leaves into boiling water for just a second or two, then cool in ice water. Pat dry and freeze on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Once the leaves are frozen, keep them in a plastic container, layered with waxed paper.
Another option is to puree basil with a bit of olive oil to make a paste. Drop the paste by the spoonful into some ice trays and freeze until firm. You can store these “basil cubes” in a freezer-safe bag or container for several months. It’s a great way to add fresh summer flavor to your winter sauces and soups.