As an herb lover, I grow many different herbs indoors and outdoors. You can say that I love to include them in my cooking a lot. I enjoy how they enhance the flavor and give it so much power. Lemon basil has a strong aroma and is very useful in various dishes such as decorations, condiments, salads, and soup.
In addition, the stem is an indispensable material for bouquet garni (bundle of herbs) and especially when it starts to bloom. It is also used as a tea as a treatment for cold. Let’s not forget its great health benefits and nutrients as well.
However, isn’t it difficult to use up? I will introduce the tips for preserving lemon basil, which is often used in cooking, and the preservation arrangements such as dry lemon basil and lemon basil oil that are useful to make. Additionally, this amazing herb has great health benefits, I just cannot find reasons to love it less!
Each now and then I find myself harvesting many herbs at the same time, especially for the ones that are annual such as lemon basil. So, to not waste them, I’d have to store them in different ways. Each herb has its own style of storage and how you’d like to use it in the future.
Lemon basil, for instance, needs to be stored differently than lemon verbena. Lemon basil carries some type of sweetness within it which makes it more sensitive than others.
Here are the different ways on how to store and preserve your lemon basil for a long period of time after harvesting large amounts.
Tips for Refrigerating and Freezing Lemon Basil
Put your collected lemon basil in a glass of water, cover it with a plastic bag, seal it with a rubber band, and put it in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator. You can use it for one or two days.
If you’re not going to use it in a short term, wrap it in a wet paper towel, put it in a storage container, and store it in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator. It will last for about 2 weeks.
Separate the leaves from the stems and put them in a plastic bag while leaving a little bit of air inside. Then, put it in the freezer. This method will save your lemon basil for about a whole month.
I must note that the leaves can be frozen in the chopped state. However, later on, in use, the lemon basil taste would be a little faded.
There is another option where you put the lemon basil leaves in an ice tray filled with either water, soup stock, or even olive oil. After that, put the ice tray in the freezer. Here, you can use it as it is for making soup or sauce, depending on whatever you’d like to make.
Additionally to the previous methods, you can soak the leaves in olive oil with garlic and store it as lemon basil oil. This method is convenient to use for salads and pasta.
For dry lemon basil, pick off the leaves one by one. Watch your leaves well to get rid of any insects and dirt. Spread them in a colander for around an hour. Then place them in either paper bags or on a normal plate (preferably, the plate should be covered with a paper towel.)
Another way to air dry the leaves is to use the ancient method by placing the leaves on clay pots. For many years, way before the refrigerator was created, this method was used and was highly effective.
The key here is to not overcrowd the leaves. Each individual leaf needs to have access to a large exposure of oxygen. After that, put the leaves in a well-ventilated shaded room away from humidity.
The drying process can last for up to two days. Once they are dry, store them in a bottle or a can. It has a nice scent when added to the finish of soups and pasta. At this stage, you whether decide to store them as they are or break them a little to have a seasoning kind of texture.
However, even though they would still taste flavorful, they taste a lot better when they are in their natural shape.
Lemon basil is a must-have at every home and garden. As a plant, it is gorgeous, very fragranced, and spiritual (if you believe in that kind of stuff of course) But, hey! don’t come at me, I believe herbs have a great spiritual impact on all of us individually.
A little side note I’d like to add is, take advantage of the lemon basil harvest you got, it is annual after all! we don’t get to have it all the time. Sad, I know!