or Bobby’s birthday a couple weekend ago, we made homemade pizza – one of the pizzas had fresh basil on it. Here’s the conundrum with fresh basil: usually, you buy it in a giant, lush bunch but you only need a small portion of the leaves. The remainder of the leaves wilt sadly in your fridge, making friends with the nearly-wasted cilantro (see that post here).
Every time I opened the refrigerator, the basil would call out to me…
(I know, it kind of looks like the basil is saluting me – but use your imagination and you can clearly see that she is a damsel in distress, swooning.)
It was definitely time to save the basil (and some money) by freezing it.
Freezing basil is not quite as straightforward as freezing cilantro. After some research, I discovered that there are several ways you can freeze basil including blending it up or chopping it finely. I decided to go the route of keeping the leaves whole and intact – that way, we can throw them into cocktails or on top of a pizza.
Basil is a rather delicate little princess. If you want it to stay green upon freezing it, you have to blanch it first, before you flash freeze it – otherwise, it will turn brown (if you don’t mind the color change, then you could just go straight to the freezer with it). It’s OK if you’ve never blanched anything before, this was my first time, too.
To blanch, simply boil a pot of water. Once it’s bubbling, dip your basil leaves into the boiling water with a sieve for about 15 seconds. You may need to push the basil down into the water with a spoon.
Next, you want to quickly STOP the cooking process by dipping the sieve of basil into a cold bucket of ice water. (Side note: this is oddly like Tony Robbins and his morning routine…I’ve listened to a lot of interviews with him lately where he talks about his morning “priming” routine; part of this includes jumping into a hot tub/hot spring and then promptly jumping into FREEZING water. So even if you never, ever blanch basil, you’ve gained a fascinating piece of information with which to surprise and entertain at cocktail parties – go, you!)
Here’s the mildly time consuming part of the process…before freezing, the leaves need to dry off. Lay them out on a paper towel like little sun-bathing beauties and leave them for awhile.
After the leaves are relatively dry, it’s time to flash freeze them!
Transfer them to a piece of parchment paper and lay them in the freezer.
It won’t take them very long to freeze since they’re so thin (thus the “flash” part of the freezing).
(My leaves were on an incline in the freezer…so once they froze, they started to slip and slide which is why they are piled on top of each other. If you freeze yours flat, you can avoid this little mishap.)
And that’s it! Now you can transfer them to a tupperware (do this quickly – while they freeze in a flash, they also thaw in a flash). Put them in a solid container and not a ziploc unless you want them to crumble into a thousand pieces. Remember, they’re very delicate little damsels.
Now, instead of swooning at me for help, my basil really does salute me every time I open the freezer!
Happy flash freezing, friends!