Simple Ways to Preserve Fresh Basil for the Long-Term
Basil is a fantastic herb that not only enhances the flavor of a limitless amount of recipes, but it also has a wide-range of medicinal benefits as well. Every stockpile should include an ample supply, and there are few different methods that you can use to preserve it. Take a look at the options below, and see how easy it is to keep basil fresh for long periods of time.
The most efficient and lasting way to preserve basil is to dry it out. However, it’s important that you do it properly in order to prevent nutrient-loss or the formation of mold during storage. The first step is to clean the leaves after picking them by gently washing and patting them dry. You want to dehydrate the leaves whole, with a portion of their stems still attached, in order to enjoy maximum flavor and prevent wilting.
Once the leaves have been cleaned and dried, place them in a single layer atop your dehydration rack. It’s okay to crowd the dehydrator as long as the leaves aren’t stacked atop each other. The ideal temperature range is between 95 and 120 degrees under normal conditions. However, you may want to increase the temperature to 125-130 degrees if you are processing the leaves in very humid conditions. Keep them in the dehydrator until they have dried completely and the leaves crumble when your rub them. Place them in small glass jars with screw-on lids and keep them in a cool, dark place until ready for use.
Believe it or not, you can “cure” basil leaves in a manner similar to how you use salt to preserve meat products. Start by adding an inch of coarse salt to the bottom of a pint or quart mason jar. Place a layer of washed and dried basil leaves atop the salt and keep repeating until you reach the top of the jar. Screw on the lid and store in a cool and dry place. Ideally, the best place to keep the container is in the refrigerator, but the basil can remain fresh in your pantry or food storage area as well. When ready to use, simply pull out as many leaves as you need, shake off the salt, and you’re all set.
Olive Oil Ice Cubes
While you may not have access to your freezer during a prolonged power outage or survival situation, you can enjoy the benefits of this method now. You can also use this method when outside temperatures are below freezing or when there is a lot of snow on the ground. Cut the leaves into smaller pieces so they can fit in the holes of an ice cube tray. Fill up the holes, but don’t pack the leaves too tight. The idea is to have enough basil in each hole to provide a serving that can be used in recipes later.
Fill the holes with extra virgin olive oil until all of the leaves are covered. Place the tray in the freezer, and it only takes a few hours before you get basil ice cubes. All you need to do is take them out one by one as needed. If you don’t want to use the olive oil when cooking with the basil, all you need to do is let the cubes melt and pull out the leaves.
Try these methods out for yourself, and consider using all three in order to diversify your storage capabilities. You can also use the same process with other leafy herbs as well. At the end of the day nothing could be easier, and these techniques can help you to enjoy a limitless supply of this wonderful herb long after the growing season has ended.