Best way to freeze basil leaves for winter months?

It is time to preserve the plant that had done miraculously well this summer!

Which is the best way to preserve basil leaves for taste? They lose too much flavour by chopping them and put them in freezer bag compared to other herbs. Any suggestions? Basil with oil? Purée?


I’ve read that it’s very difficult to preserve the leaves because, as you say, they lose so much flavour when frozen.

How about infusing them in olive oil to flavour it? Or making pesto?

Put them in a dehydrator. Once dry put the leaves into a plastic bag being careful to leave them as whole as possible until needed.

I chiffonade the leaves and freeze them in ice cube trays with a little water. Not good enough to eat raw, but fine for pasta and like that.

I like the idea of ice cube, for individual portion. What’s the difference between adding water and not?

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I usually use some kind of store bought basil essential oil, it’s stronger than the frozen version for winter cooking.

Honestly, I have no idea. I came across that method a few years ago and never saw reason to deviate from it. For all I know, freezing the leaves dry is also fine.

They will turn black if exposed to air once cut, the water prevents it.

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You can also chop them, mix them with some olive oil, and freeze them in tablespoon- or ice-cube-sized quantities. I freeze pesto all the time, which is basically chopped basil with oil, and it is none the worse for wear upon defrosting.

Have you read this article about freezing basil leaves before making pesto?

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This is interesting. I have recently started blanching my basil before making pesto to help preserve the color and I have noticed that the flavor tends to be quite strong - I wasn’t sure if it was just because I’m using homegrown basil that has better flavor, or because of the blanching. Now I’m thinking that perhaps blanching does the same thing that freezing does in terms of rupturing cell walls.

If this article is to be believed, then freezing pesto makes it better. Works for me.

Does anyone know how cold does the temperature has to be before the basil plant starts dying? I’d like to keep it as plant form as long as possible.

Basil really hates the cold. It gets stressed as soon as the temps dip into the 40s. Sometimes I have been able to keep a plant going by draping a sheet over it (but not touching the plant). While the shorter days with low light don’t help, one cold night kills the plant.

P.S. I am all for stretching the season.

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The night temperature can go down to 10ºC/50ºF these days. Not much sun these days, it didn’t die yet, but it didn’t grow new leaves like 2 weeks ago.

Anybody has tried overwintering basil indoor?

Did some reading, said it is no good to overwinter basil indoor. They are annual and life is nearly over for them. Better start indoors with seeds in autumn using lights.