Do you have more basil in your garden then you can possibly use? There are so many ways to use fresh basil and other ways to save it for use all winter long!
Basil is easy to grow and tastes amazing when used fresh from the garden.
But if you are anything like me, you tend to grow more herbs than you can use up in the fall before cold weather hits.
Basil is cold and heat sensitive and those of us that live in areas where temperatures are below or above the optimal temperatures can only grow it for about 5 or 6 months per year.
The optimal temperatures to grow basil are between 60F and 90F.
So, essentially, my basil takes a beating in July and August when our temps are around 100F!
I also have to bring it in the house around October and attempt to keep it alive as long as possible before the dry heat and lack sun kill it.
In order to have a lot of basil on hand, I grow several plants. This year I believe that I grew about 20 plants! I started from seed in the spring and was so surprised at how well all of them did!
Now that it is September, some of plants have thinned out from excessive heat in August. Others still look great and I will attempt to use as much of it as possible over the next month!
The great news is that there are so many ways to use basil straight from the garden and also to preserve it until you are able to start a new crop in the spring!
Here are all of the different ways that I use up excess basil!
Use it fresh
Of course, the first idea is to use it fresh from the garden on everything you eat!
Basil tends to be one of those herbs that tastes great with so many other foods.
Put fresh basil on top of a pizza after it comes out of the oven. This keeps your herbs fresh and tasty! If you put it on before the pizza goes in the oven, the basil will burn and get bitter.
Peaches, apricots, pineapple, strawberries or blueberries all go GREAT with basil!
My personal favorite is my Pineapple Basil Mille-Feuille recipe which is a Patreon exclusive recipe. You can check out my Patreon HERE.
Basil Lime Chicken is a firm favorite in my house. Check out the recipe here:
Make Pomada (A Spanish Gin cocktail)
Pomada is a gin cocktail that is popular in Menorca, Spain (and possibly other places too)! My daughter fell in love with this fresh, gin-spiked lemonade cocktail while attending field school in Menorca a couple of years ago.
The recipe is simple and her version is a bit different than any others that I have seen online.
What goes into a Pomada Cocktail:
- High ball or Collins glass
- 50mL Mahon Gin (my daughter swears that it MUST be Mahon!)
- Crushed Ice
- Enough Lemonade to top off the glass
- A Couple of fresh Basil leaves, slightly muddled
Put the gin and crushed ice in a highball or collins glass. Top off with fresh lemonade. Add the basil leave and stir well.
Now sit back and enjoy the taste of Menorca!
Make and Can Pasta Sauce
Tomatoes and basil are a match made in heaven. And there are are often a surplus of both at about the same time.
Making a pasta sauce is easy but is best when it is simmered slowly to build the flavor. The recipe that I use most can be found HERE. It is simple and straightforward and so flavorful!
Make a large batch and can as many jars as you can to use throughout the winter. Homemade sauce is far superior to store bought and is such a treasure to pull from the pantry during the cold winter months.
Freeze Whole Basil Leaves
Freezing basil is one of the quickest ways to preserve it for months to come. Large batches can be done in no time and the flavor of the fresh leaves is locked in.
The steps are simple.
To freeze fresh basil:
- Pick the leaves off the stems and wash and dry completely.
- Blanche the leaves by dipping them in boiling water for 2 to 3 seconds.
- Quickly remove from the boiling water and dunk into a bowl filled with ice water.
- Dry the leaves completely and store in single layers in an airtight container with parchment paper or wax paper between the layers.
I like to store these in small air tight packets that are sealed with my Food Saver.
The great thing about the Food Saver system is that you can make the packets or ‘bags’ any size you like.
I normally store about 1/4 cup of basil in each packet (about 15 to 20 leaves). This is the perfect amount for most sauces or pasta dishes.
To use your frozen basil, simple cut open the packet and add to any recipe that calls for fresh herbs!
Pesto is delicious and adaptable and should always be in your refrigerator! Pesto is normally made from garlic, basil, pine nuts, hard cheese and olive oil.
To make pesto, you will need:
- 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
- 3 ounces grated Parmesan
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 6 cups fresh basil leaves
- 180 mL olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
Add the pine nuts, cheese, and garlic to a food processor and pulse until finely ground, about 1 minute. Add the fresh basil and place the top back on. With the motor running, stream in the oil in a slow stream until the pesto is mostly smooth, with just a few flecks of green, about 1 minute. Season with salt to taste.
Spread pesto on toast with avocado, replace the mayo in your sandwich, or mix into pasta for a fresh dinner in minutes!
Two Ways to Dry Basil
My husband bought me a dehydrator a few years ago and at first I thought that it was just another gadget that I would never use.
Then I started to think about all of the different things that I could use it for!
I’ve used it to dry fondant decorations in a hurry, dry fruit slices when I find great prices and I have dried a TON of my own herbs!
To dry your basil (or any other herb you have loads of):
- Wash and dry your basil thoroughly.
- Place the basil in the dehydrator on the lowest setting (usually about 95F). Allow to dry for 12 to 24 hours or until completely dry.
- Store in an airtight container for up to one year.
In the Oven
If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can use your oven to dry your basil.
How to dry basil in the oven:
- Wash your basil and dry it thoroughly.
- Lay the basil leaves on a baking sheet in a single layer.
- Heat oven to the lowest setting available – usually between 170F and 180F.
- Bake the basil until completely dry – about 45 minutes to 2 hours. The time will vary depending on your oven temperature and the size of the basil leaves.
- Crumble the dry basil leaves and store in an airtight container for up to one year.
Make Basil Cubes
Another easy way to preserve fresh basil for use throughout the winter is to freeze it in ice cube trays.
You can choose your own base here – some great options are olive oil, butter, broth or even water. Choose the one that you normally cook with as a base.
Wash and dry your basil thoroughly and then coarsely chop either by hand or very briefly in a food processor. Add a drizzle of olive oil and toss to coat. This will keep the basil from darkening and turning black in the freezer.
Put a small scoop of basil in each cube and then cover with the base of your choice. Freeze until firm and then store in a labeled ziploc bag.
Blueberry Basil Jam
- 10 cups blueberries
- 4 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 1.75 ounce package of Low Sugar Pectin powder
- 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
- 120 mL water
- Prepare your canning equipment and wash and sterilize 8 half-pint mason jars.
- In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup of the sugar and package of pectin. In a separate bowl, measure out the remaining 4 1/4 cups of sugar and set aside.
- Wash the blueberries and discard any stems. Place in a blender or food processor and cover. Pulse to evenly chop the blueberries but do not liquefy. Transfer all but 1/4 cup of blueberries into a large saucepan.
- Add the lemon juice, basil, and water to the remaining berries in the food processor. Pulse until well blended and no large chunks remain. Add to the blueberries in the saucepan.
- Stir the sugar and pectin mixture into the blueberries, and cook over medium-high heat until the mixture reaches a rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Quickly stir in the remaining sugar. Return to a boil, and boil for exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam.
- Ladle the hot jam into the prepared jars, leaving 1/2-inch of headspace. Wipe jar rims and threads to remove any jam mixture that dripped. Screw on the lids and rings tightly. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove from water and let cool completely, about 12 to 24 hours. Check seals. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used within 3 weeks.
So which of these will you use with your basil this Fall??
Let me know in the comments if you try any of these ideas or if you have your own tips for using and preserving basil!
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