Fresh and dried basil are vastly different ingredients. While you can substitute dried for fresh in tomato based sauces and soups and still produce a great result, for pestos and curries, dried basil is simply not an option. But as autumnal colors paint the landscape, not only is fresh basil scarce, the stuff you find in clamshells is lacklaster, expensive, and the varieties are limited. So, if you want pesto in December, your best solution is to plan ahead and freeze your garden fresh basil. Your winter pesto may never be as bright as summer's, but when winter has come, you'll welcome a taste of summer.
- 1 cup chopped & blanched basil (6 oz) to 3/4 cups (5.5 oz) olive or vegetable/nut oil
- One Ball Freezer Herb Tray holds about 1 3/4 cups (11 oz) of herb & oil mixture.
- Each cube contains about 1 3/4 tablespoons (.7 oz) of basil and 1 1/4 tablespoons (.6 oz) of oil.
Deviations & Tips
- Use about 1 cube for 1 ounce of fresh basil, but because the flavors can be muted by the blanching, don't be afraid to add more.
- For every cube used, you can reduce the oil in your recipe by about 1 tablespoon.
- The basil weights and volume measures (cups/TB) shown here represent the weight of the leaves after blanching. So, they will not be a direct equivalent to the weight and volume of fresh basil leaves.
- Water can be substituted for the oil. Water based cubes offer greater flexibility but don't enhance the herb's flavor and color like oils do.
- Regular ice cube trays will work too! But how much basil and oil you get per cube will vary from what I get.
In order to maintain your basil's beautiful green hue, blanch the stalks... Bring a large pot of water to boil. To a large bowl or another pot, add water and ice. Plunge the basil stalks into the boiling water for just 3 seconds. Remove and plunge those stalks immediately into the ice water to stop cooking.
Remove leaves from the stalks. It's ok if you have some tender stems and flowers.
Puree leaves with oil or water. Drop mixture into cube trays and freeze until completely solid.
Note: Regular ice cube trays can be used in place of the Ball trays. But because the Ball trays have fitted lids, they are easy to stack in the freezer. Additionally, the flexibility of the silicone makes cube removal easy.
If needed, run hot water over the bottom of your trays to help the cubes release. Store in the freezer in freezer bags or air tight containers until ready to use.