I was searching on the internet for ways of storing basil as I had bought a bunch and there was too much for me to use in one go. It’s pretty expensive here in Saudi Arabia so I didn’t want to leave it stagnating in the fridge and miss using it at it’s best. In fact all herbs can spoil fairly quickly so it’s important to store them well if you are not intending to use them up immediately. Here are a few tips.
It turns out there are a few ways to store basil in order to retain that wonderful aroma.
You can place the basil into a mini robocoupe, add a little olive oil and blitz until you have a smooth, vibrant green pesto type mixture, store in a tight lidded jar in the fridge and use this in your recipes as desired.
If you wish to freeze the leaves, wash them, pat them dry and freeze them on a baking sheet, transferring them to a ziploc bag when they are frozen, take care though because they will be brittle.
The option I decided to go with was to freeze the leaves within cubes of ice. Half the bag of basil I chopped, the other half I left whole:
Place about a tablespoon of chopped basil into each section of an ice cube tray. Top up with chilled water.
Place in freezer until solid and then pop out of ice cube trays and transfer to a freezer bag. Those above are chopped but those below contain whole leaves as you can see. If you want to use the basil in your soup or stews, just drop a cube or two straight into the cooking pan and the ice will quickly thaw; the small amount of water shouldn’t make too much difference to your dish.
Coriander and Parsley
For coriander and parsley which are both far cheaper and more readily available here in Saudi Arabia I find that wrapping the unwashed bunches of herbs in kitchen towel (thick tissue paper) and placing the wrapped bunches into an airtight container helps to keep the herbs fresh for a good week or more. The kitchen towel absorbs any excess moisture in the herbs, delaying spoiling.
From time to time I do wash, chop and leave the coriander or parsley on a towel to dry a little before placing into a freezer bag and freezing. I do find however that if left too long in the freezer the flavour spoils.
Mint can be treated as coriander and parsley and wrapped in kitchen towel and kept in a tub in the refrigerator however I usually dry mint. I remove the dirty ends, wash the mint, shake off the bunches and then lay them out on a tea towel and leave to dry out. In the arid atmosphere of Riyadh this takes only a couple of days, even in winter four days is usually enough. Once dried, I pick the leaves off the stems and store them in an airtight container.
When I want to use the mint, I simply drop a teaspoon or so into the teapot with green tea and top up with boiling water to make Arabic mint tea.