Q: I had an abundant crop of basil this year. What is the best way to preserve it? I tried hanging it like I do with other herbs, but it didn’t work very well.
Basil is definitely different from sturdier herbs such as thyme or rosemary. Its leaves are softer and more delicate, so they’re not good candidates for drying. And they’re prone to darkening when cut.
Freezing is the best option to save basil. There are several methods, depending on what you want to do with the basil. The simplest is to chop the basil, place it in ice-cube trays and cover with water. Try to fill the cubes with plenty of basil so you don’t have to use too much water. That method works great for soups and stews because you can just throw in a couple of cubes.
The second method is to place the basil in a food processor, pulse a few times to chop and then mix in oil. The basil will darken, but it will keep plenty of flavor. You can throw the basil and the oil into a dish you’re sauteing, such as vegetables.
Finally, you can just make pesto. Basil pesto freezes well. I usually put it in a resealable freezer bag and flatten it. It will stay soft enough that you can just break off chunks whenever you need it.
Email cooking questions to Kathleen Purvis at mailto:email@example.com.