Saturday, September 19, 2009

For Love of Basil

Basil is one of my favorite herbs to cook with, both fresh & dried. There is a taste difference between the two, and I'd like to share with you how I preserve the flavor of fresh basil for winter dishes.

You will need:
-Fresh basil
-Olive oil (I use extra virgin cold pressed)
-mortar & pestle, or an alternative
-an ice cube tray
-a Tablespoon measure

-- Pinch off the fresh basil leaves. You don't want flowers or their buds, just the fresh leaves. Rinse them off in water and pat dry.

Fresh basil in pestle-- Rip them into small pieces (or cut or dice). Place in a small bowl - I'm using my mortar & pestle here. Dribble some olive oil on them, and crush the leaves into the oil. You don't need to create a pulp but rather want to bruise the leaves into the oil.

-- Using a tablespoon, measure the crushed basil into ice cube trays. I do one tablespoon per cube for ease of measuring later. Pour a bit more oil onto them, and tuck all the green down under the surface of the oil. Put into the freezer.

-- The next day, check them. They should be completely frozen. You can add another layer of oil on the top, and freeze again, if you feel it would be helpful or there is green sticking up - you want to protect the basil.
Frozen Basil
--Whenever you are making something and want the flavor of fresh basil, toss in a cube or two. It makes even canned spaghetti sauce taste much better, & doesn't need to be thawed in advance. I try to put some up every winter.

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