Preserving Basil

Preserving Basil, perhaps the most popular herb in culinary recipes around the world, is easily accomplished with few, if any, special equipment. Basil is found in many different cuisines throughout the world, including France, where it is an essential ingredient in the classic herbal mixture, "bouquet garni". The Italian cook book would be almost empty if recipes including Basil were not included! Basil and tomatoes are a classic combination that brings out the flavors of each to compliment everything from pasta, bread, rice, meat dishes, salsas in a huge variety of recipes!   

Basil is very easily cultivated, requiring only a sunny, warm location to thrive. I grow basil in the garden and in pots on the patio, where it is easily in reach of the kitchen door. Because it is so easy to grow, many gardeners find that they have way more than they need by the end of the season.

Basil looses some of its pleasant taste after being dried, causing purists to shun it at all costs! I admit the flavor changes somewhat, but, I can't imagine cooking Italian sauces during the winter without it!

Basil can be preserved in a variety of ways including Drying Basil which is the most popular means of preservation and can be used in all recipes requiring basil.

Freezing Basil can be accomplished in several ways, including one of the most popular recipes using lots of fresh basil leaves known as Pesto. It freezes well and keeps all winter. The other two methods include ice-cube trays and vacuum sealing basil, both of which preserve the  leaves only which can be used in many recipes requiring the fresh taste of this popular herb.

Making Basil Flavored Butter, which also freezes well, adds the fresh chopped leaves to a stick of butter that can be spread on freshly baked breads and as a base for sauces and sautes for fresh vegetables.

Flavored honey has become quite popular as it is a great way to impart the flavor of basil in hot teas, imparting the healing qualities of both honey and basil. Basil Flavored Honey is easy to make and keeps well in your kitchen cupboard.

Basil Flavored Oil is used both in sautes of fresh vegetables and salad dressings. It can be used in homemade mayonnaise to add a unique taste as a spread in Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato sandwiches or drizzled over fresh tomatoes, basil leaves and mozzarella of my favorite summer treats as the fresh tomatoes come into season.

Basil Flavored Vinegar drizzled over tomatoes and fresh raw vegetables makes a refreshing dish packed with flavor and vitamins. It, too can be used in salad dressings and homemade mayonnaises.

Harvesting Basil

Always snip the top new growth of the Basil plant to encourage new growth and a bushier plant. Gather the blooming ends before they have the chance to set seeds, which will signal to the plant that it's job is done for the season, shutting down more vigorous growth. Harvest Basil before the first frost, as it is extremely cold sensitive and will turn brown easily if exposed to even a light frost. At the end of the season, the whole plant can be pulled and stripped of its leaves for drying.

To learn more about Basil, check out The History of BasilThe Medicinal Uses of Basil and the Aromatherapy uses of Basil.

Herb Jar Labels are provided here for putting the finishing touches to your homemade Basil projects, either as gifts or simply to label your culinary creations!