Freezing Basil in Ice Cube Trays

INSIDE : Looking for best practices when Freezing Basil in Ice Cube Trays for the winter? Well, I have you covered! I go over the best time to harvest, how small to chop your basil, which ice cube trays are the best to use and more. You’ll be glad you spent the time all year long when enjoying these great frozen herbs.

Basil in Ice Cube Trays

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This post has been updated since it’s original November 2021 publish date.

I spend so much time in the late Spring and Summer seasons planning, prepping and growing my small Raised Vegetable Garden. It brings me such joy to tend to all the vegetables, flowers and hersb. So much so that each Fall and then Winter, I lament that my garden is slowly going to die. Well, no longer!

This year, I decided to do whatever I needed to do to harvest, can and freeze my lovely summer spoils so that we could extend the life of all that work.

I am so excited to share how I froze my Basil herbs this year in just a quick bit of work.

What supplies do I need to freeze garden basil for the winter?

Harvesting Fresh Herbs

There are a few ways to harvest your herbs. But, the best time of the day to harvest herbs is in the morning. After the dew has dried, but before the heat of the day really sets in.  This is when the essential oils are at their peak, resulting in the strongest flavors.

I grew my basil in a big terra cotta pot this summer, so I simply brought the pot right into our kitchen for harvest time.

You can either use your fingers and pinch off a few stems or you can use pruning shears.

Finger pinching should be used for more delicate plants and leaves. And you will want to make sure to pinch tightly right through the stem of the leaf.

Since I was taking off the entire stem and not just a few single leaves, I opted to use kitchen scissors (or pruning shears).

Harvesting Basil

How to clean Fresh Garden Basil Leaves

Once you have removed the basil leaves from their stem, it’s time to clean off the herbs from any dirt, debris or bugs that may have creeped onto your food – eek.

Place the herbs in a stainless steel colander and gently swish them around under cool water. This allows the water to wash away any dirt or debris. Then drain the water and repeat if necessary.

Basil in colander

Once the basil leaves are rinsed off, it’s time to dry them off a bit.

I placed a towel down and laid the basil on top. You can either allow the basil to air dry or take another towel and gently tap off the excess water.

Avoid rubbing, as this can bruise the delicate leaves.

Basil drying

Chop Basil Leaves

Once the herb leaves are mostly dry, you can begin to chop them on a cutting board. Make sure to cut them in into thin ribbons as they will fit in the ice cube trays easiest this way.

Start by stacking the basil leaves onto top of each other, maybe 3 or 4. Then, roll the leaves into a tight tube. It doesn’t matter which direction you roll. Keep the roll as tight as you can, as this makes cutting into ribbons a cinch.

Using your knife, begin to cut the basil into thin ribbons.

Chopped Basil

Add Olive Oil to Basil trays

Next, place a small handful of basil into each of your ice cube trays and drizzle olive oil over top. You don’t need to completely fill the ice cube spot with oil, but make sure to have enough to cover the basil.

The olive oil helps prevents the basil from turning black when it is frozen and helps gives it a richer flavor when you do use it. You can also use water instead of oil, but I prefer oil.

Fresh Basil in Ice Cube trays

How to freeze fresh Basil leaves in ice cube trays

Once the chopped basil and olive oil has been added to each of your trays, you can safely add the lid (if your trays have a lid) and place them in the freezer.

I checked on mine the following day and they looked and smelled amazing!

Basil frozen in ice cube trays

Basil Ice Cubes

Once your basil herbs are frozen, they should last in the freezer for up to five months. And based on when you freeze yours, mine was done here in November, they should last until just about it’s time to start growing fresh ones in your garden again!

Win win win.

Frozen Basil Cubes

What do you use Frozen Garden Basil Cubes for?

When you freeze basil, it will obviously not be the same exact consistency as using it fresh. However, frozen basil, in my opinion is much more flavorful than using dried basil herbs in your cooking.

  • Marinade for chicken
  • Marinade for fish
  • Minestone soup
  • Stews
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Creamy pesto sauce
  • Classic pesto sauces
  • Egg Salads
  • Scrambled Eggs
  • Smoothies
  • Salad Dressings

I can’t wait to get cooking with mine!

Olive Oil and Basil frozen

Tips for using Frozen Basil

Here are a few key tips when using frozen basil cubes in your cooking…

  • Add frozen basil sparingly at first, as it can be more concentrated than fresh basil. You can always add more to taste.
  • For most cooked dishes, adding frozen basil directly saves time and avoids texture loss.
  • If using in salads or dips, thaw by placing the cubes in a colander under cold running water for a few minutes. Drain well and gently pat dry.
  • If frozen in whole leaves, quickly pulse in a food processor to achieve a consistency closer to fresh chopped basil.
  • Frozen basil can be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Fresh Basil from the garden

Looking for other garden related posts? You might like these :

Stacked Herb Garden

DIY Stacked Herb Planter

Garden Tool Pegboard

Garden Tools

Create a Simple Raised Vegetable Garden

Raised Vegetable Garden

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