Freezing basil is one of the best ways to preserve the herb’s flavor while it is fresh. Dried basil is a staple of spice aisles in grocery stores but lacks the complexity that you get from the fresh herb. Freezing fresh basil allows you to keep its bright flavors and intense aroma, but it does come with a cost.
To get the best results from your frozen basil, you understand the shelf life of frozen basil along with the best ways to use it when it thaws out. Let’s examine some questions about freezing basil.
How long can basil last in the freezer?
Like other fresh herbs in the mint family, basil can retain its best quality in the freezer for about six months. It is still perfectly good to use after that point, but it will be at its best if you use it before the six-month mark. Fresh basil will still be usable for years if it is frozen in the right way and remains frozen.
Do any basil types hold up better than others?
There are several different basil varieties, including lemon basil, holy basil, and Greek basil. There are no significant differences between them in how they handle freezing. What matters is how you freeze them.
Techniques for freezing basil to maintain its quality include:
Place the leaves in a food processor or blender with some olive oil and puree them. Freeze the puree in an ice cube tray or pour it into small freezer bags. The puree will retain the bright green of the basil leaves better than the leaves will in the freezer.
Baking sheet method
Lay the leaves out on a baking sheet and place in the freezer for an hour. Remove the leaves from the baking sheet and place in freezer bags. Freezing on the baking sheet allows them to freeze separately so that you can remove individual leaves when you need them without having to thaw all of them out. Some experts recommend blanching the leaves or 1-2 seconds in boiling water before placing them on the baking sheet. Blanching can help to kill the bacteria that cause decomposition.
Will thawed basil taste any different?
If it was frozen using one of the methods above, thawed basil will maintain a very similar flavor to fresh basil. What will change is the texture of the leaves if you used the baking sheet method. Like all fresh herbs that have been frozen and thawed, basil will be limp and will lose its bright color.
What are the best ways to use basil that has been frozen?
Thawed basil will work in any dish that requires it primarily for its flavor. It works just as well as fresh basil in pasta sauces, soups, and for making pesto. While the texture and color change from being thawed and frozen will make it unsuitable as a salad green, it will still work well in a vinaigrette.
Does basil that has been frozen and thawed have a shorter shelf life when compared to fresh basil?
The effects of freezing on the structure of basil leaves do shorten the shelf life when it is thawed. While blanching the leaves helps frozen basil to last longer, the fact that ice crystals have damaged the cell walls means that it will be vulnerable to damage from bacteria and oxidation. The result is that thawed basil leaves will start to break down more quickly than they would when fresh.