Basil is a very tender herb that can be used for many different things ranging from making pesto to utilizing it to make pickling vinegar. The rule of thumb is; if you pick your basil you should plan on using it the same day. If you have to keep it for a day or two put it in a vase of water or if you only have the de-stemmed leaves wrap them in a damp paper towel and put it in a plastic bag in the crisper of your refrigerator.
Placing freshly picked basil in some water can prolong it’s life for about a week.
So, what do you do if your basil plant grows so successfully that it produces more basil than you can use in a day or two. Don’t worry, you won’t be punished for having a successful plant because there are many different ways to preserve basil. You can keep it in the refrigerator; you can freeze it or store it. It is up to you and how you want to preserve your basil.
Two of my favorite ways to preserve any excess basil is to make basil ice cubes or basil butter. To make the basil ice cubes start by carefully washing your basil and letting it dry on a paper towel or in a salad spinner. Once dry carefully pick off the leaves of the basil. Chop the basil into fine pieces and place into the bottom of an ice cube tray. Then, simply pour extra virgin olive oil over the top and place in the freezer. Whenever you are in need of a blast of basil just pop out an ice cube and use it in whatever recipe that you are created.
In order to preserve your basil by making butter follow the steps above of washing and picking the leaves then take butter (I like mine on the strong basil side, so I use 4 teaspoons finely chopped basil for every ½ cup of butter) place in a mixer and whip until light and fluffy, add your basil, salt, pepper, and garlic if you like. Once all the ingredients are whipped together divide up the butter and place on wax or parchment paper and roll it up tightly. Put them in freezer bags and take them out as you need them.
Chop basil and place in ice tray and fill with olive oil to preserve it for up to a year.
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photo credit: Zach Bulick via photopincc
photo credit: jonpalmer