This is a good way to conserve basil without resorting to a basil-and-olive oil concoction, which limits, really, what you can do with it. You can use the leaves for various recipes calling for chopped basil. It’s a bit labor-intensive, but not overly so, and you’ll be thankful, in the middle of winter, when you can open the freezer and take out these leaves. The leaves will probably not hold their color, and they can’t be used as fresh, but they’ll have great, summery flavor for soups, stews, dressings…
fresh basil, washed, dried, leaves separated from stems
1. Make sure the leaves are dry, otherwise they’ll get frosted in the freezer and deteriorate some. Lay out a couple of feet or more, depending on the space you have, of wax paper. Secure the ends to keep flat. Staring about 3 inches from the top, lay a row of basil leaves across the span of wax paper. Try not to have them touch. Take the top 3 inches and fold it over the row of basil leaves. Make a crease. Make another row of leaves, and fold the already folded layer over that. Continue until you come to almost the end of the sheet of wax paper. Fold up. Tape shut or use elastic bands to hold the sheet together. Place in a freezer bag. Continue, if you like, until you’ve made enough to suit your needs.
2. To use, take one of the folded sheets out of the freezer. Unfold from the end, taking out how many basil leaves you need for a recipe. Refold, resecure, refreeze.