How to Make and Freeze Basil Oil (or Other Herbal Oil)?


How to Make and Freeze Basil Oil (or Other Herbal Oil)?

This is a combination of two food preservation methods:

  • preserving in fat
  • and freezing.

Basil isn’t the only herb this method works great with:

You can use it with cilantro (coriander leaves) and any other tender leafy herb that doesn’t dry well.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Get a large bowl of ice water ready if your tap water isn’t extremely cold.

Briefly swirl a bunch of basil in the boiling water (thus not more than 30 seconds; 20 is plenty).

Immediately transfer the blanched basil to the ice water, or run cold tap water over it to cancel out the residual heat (you want the herb to be blanched, not cooked).

This blanching-then-chilling step ensures that your basil oil will keep its lovely bright green color once thawed.

Squeeze the basil hard to remove as much water as possible, or roll it up in a dishcloth and then squeeze that.

Strip the leaves off of the stems and put them into a blender or food processor.

Add an approximately equal amount by volume of good-quality extra-virgin olive oil.

Puree the basil and oil.

There are two handy ways to freeze the basil oil once you’ve made it.

One is to pour it into freezer bags and seal it.

Spread the basil oil out in the bag horizontally;

It should be no more than ⅛ inch thick.

Once it’s frozen, you’ll have a sort of basil oil pancake.

Break off just what you need when you want to use some.

The other method is to spoon the basil oil into the chambers of an ice cube tray.

Once frozen, transfer the cubes of basil oil to freezer bags or containers.

Use basil oil as is it’s wonderful on top of bean soups, as a dipping sauce for bread, or of course on pasta.

Or you can use it as a base for pesto by simply adding garlic, Parmesan cheese, and pine nuts or walnuts.

If you make a big batch of pesto intending to eat some right away and freeze the rest,

Do not bother with the blanching-and-freezing step so that your pesto keeps its light emerald color even after it has been frozen and thawed.

It’s best to leave out the garlic and add some just before serving because it can develop a bitter taste when frozen.


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