Basil all winter long

Mrs. Homegrown here:

Basil is a summer plant. When the nights get cold, basil turns unhappy. It yellows and loses flavor. Here in LA that doesn’t happen until quite late in the year. Erik just pulled out our summer basil a couple of days ago to make room for winter plants. I’m replacing it–in a culinary sense–with Italian parsley, which loves cool weather, but hates the heat. It seems our gardening year swings between the basil and parsley poles.

I made the last of our basil into basil cubes, which is my favorite way of preserving it. Just wash and coarsely chop your basil leaves and shove them into an ice cube tray, so that there’s a spoonful of basil in every cube. Cover with water and freeze. Pop them out of the trays and transfer them to a ziplock freezer bag. Throughout the winter, whenever you want a little fresh basil flavor, all you have to do is grab a few cubes. Toss the cubes straight into sauces, or let them melt to retrieve the leaves alone to use for toppings, salad &etc.

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  1. We like your cryogenic approach to entending the heaven that is basil. And hey–how about adding a couple of those sexy cubes to a spicy bloody mary?

  2. This seems like extra work added. My wife and I just pick the remaining basil at season’s end, cut off the roots, rinse, let dry in a sink strainer, and then shove all of it into gallon freezer bags and into the freezer. When we need to use it, we take out several branches, rub/crush them in our hands, and the crinkly frozen basil falls out of our hands and leaving the woody bits behind. I’ve left them in the freezer for up to a year and never had them freezer-burned or flavorless.

  3. @ Scot, Earl: I’ve always wanted to freeze pesto, but have always managed to devour every scrap of whatever pesto I make, no matter how hard I try to make extra. Just oil and basil-now perhaps that I could do.

    @Seamus: You’re right. Basil can be frozen in bunches. Our freezer is really tiny and packed, so when I’ve done that I’ve ended up with basil dust, but it is definitely a good technique, especially for people who can actually see into their freezers and know where things are (I hear of such marvels but know them not.)

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