Last year, I had scads of basil and froze a little. Before the winter was hardly even started, I had put a big dent in what was in the freezer. I kicked myself for not freezing more and vowed to never let that happen again. I spent more money than I care to think about on the little squinchy containers of fresh basil from the supermarket when I’d neglected to utilize my resources. Rather than post pictures this week that are almost identical to last week’s, I decided I would start a pictorial series of what the raw vegan (aka raw foodist)—and anyone else—can do to preserve the harvest.
There aren’t very many avenues of preservation open to the raw foodist. Freezing and dehydrating are two and neither would be considered optimal. However, you do what you have to do to put food on the table. A third is fermenting but that’s an altogether different ball of wax. I’ve chronicled my making of kim chee elsewhere on my blog but that’s as far as I’ve gone with fermenting. I got an email from merm not too long ago that he had made pickles in their crock but I haven’t ventured there yet.
A few years ago, one of the nursing staff and I were discussing basil and I said I wished I could do something with it besides drying it. Dried basil doesn’t have the same bright flavor that fresh does. She said, “Freeze it!” and she told me how to do it. It’s pretty basic. And it’s easy. Two of my favorite things.
Since basil is an ingredient rather than something you would make a meal on, it doesn’t have to take up that much room in the freezer.
First, I harvested a good hand full of basil from the garden.
I don’t wash it. You can if you want. It’s my preference not to. It isn’t dirty—at least mine isn’t. Maybe the rain has splashed mud onto yours. Anyway, I pinch any buds out of the top (they can be bitter) and fold the leaves up into a bunch. These are some scissors I inherited from my mother. I washed them well and use them in the kitchen now. I snip away at the leaves.
Here’s a goodly amount shredded and ready for the next step. The edges may get a little brown but we are going for flavor here, not looks.
I pack the ice tray as tightly as I can with the shredded basil.
It doesn’t matter if some of the sections are fuller than others. This isn’t rocket science. When I get them full, I pour in purified water to the top of the tray. I don’t stop at the top of the sections. I go as close as I can to the top of the tray, itself.
Then it goes into the freezer until it’s frozen solid.
Once frozen, it can be tricky to get out of the tray. I tried twisting the tray but it was stuck, for sure. When I was a child, my mother had ice trays with levers that would move the sections and pop the ice cubes out but I haven’t seen any of those for years. With this plastic one, I turn it over and run water (cold is fine) on the bottom. Then I twist it over a bowl and pop the cubes out.
At this point, they are really rather pretty. Kind of like green jewels. Break them apart and put them in a labeled freezer bag and (TADA!!) put them back in the freezer. I can keep adding to the bag until it’s full and then start another one.
To use, I put one cube in one recipe of Matt’s Dip. I like it very basil-y. Try varying the amount of basil in the sections if less is wanted. But why would you want less?
My goal is not to buy ANY basil and have enough to last me until next year’s crop is ready. I should be able to make it, no problem.