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If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on some fresh Thai basil, you’ll want to know how to preserve it so you can enjoy its fantastic flavor all year round.

Read through these great how-to tips for preserving your Thai basil. In fact, there are many different ways to do it, depending on what recipe you plan on making in the future.

If you have lots of fresh Thai basil, you may not have time to use it all before it goes bad. I’m sharing with you some great ways to preserve it so you can enjoy fresh basil flavor anytime!

Close up of thai basil plants with title how to preserve thai basil

Great Reasons To Preserve Thai Basil

  • Enjoyed for centuries: Thai basil is a popular herb with a rich history and a distinctive flavor profile that adds a unique twist to various recipes. Originating in Southeast Asia, it has become a beloved ingredient in many flavorful cuisines.
  • Unique Flavor: Thai basil has a licorice-like flavor with a slightly spicy kick, setting it apart from other varieties of basil. This combination of sweet and peppery notes creates a vibrant and aromatic taste that tantalizes the palate.
  • Versatile in recipes: Thai basil is a versatile herb that is widely used in both Taiwanese and Thai cuisine. Its fresh and fragrant leaves enhance the flavors of dishes such as beef noodle soup and Thai basil chicken, adding a burst of freshness and elevating traditional delicacies. Additionally, Thai basil can be transformed into a vibrant Thai basil pesto that pairs well with pasta, sandwiches, and more, making it a fantastic herb to incorporate into your culinary creations.

🇹🇭 If you enjoy Thai seasonings, be sure to browse through my recipes such as Thai 7 Spice Blend, Spicy Thai Chicken, and Homemade Thai Seasoning Recipe.

Easy Ways To Preserve Fresh Basil?

Preserving basil is easy to do in a variety of ways. Freezing, pesto, preserving in olive oil, and serveral other ways are covered below. Think about the recipes you enjoy making to help you decide which option will be best for you.

Thai Basil plant in ground

Can You Freeze Thai Basil

Thai basil can be preserved by freezing. Freezing Thai basil is a simple and effective way to preserve it to use in recipes when you can not source fresh. 

However, note that the flavor may not be as intense as fresh leaves, so you may want to use a slightly larger amount in your recipes.

Also, the texture will change after the frozen leaves thaw, so it’s best to use frozen basil in recipes that will be heated and cooked.

Washed and cut herbs in a ziplock freezer bag

Should I blanch the basil before freezing it? 

Blanching Thai basil is not necessary for preserving it, but a few second boil can help to retain its vibrant green color when freezing. 

How Do I blanch fresh basil leaves?

To blanch Thai basil, simply submerge the leaves in boiling water for a few seconds, then transfer the blanched leaves to a cold water ice bath to stop the cooking process. Continue with steps 2 through 4. 

Steps For Freezing Thai Basil

  1. Wash the basil: Start by removing the leaves from the stems. Wash them in a large bowl of water, rinsing often. Wash thoroughly to remove any dirt or impurities. Darin and then pat dry using a paper towel.
  2. Arrange on a baking sheet: Place the dry leaves in a single layer on a baking sheet. This will prevent them from sticking together during freezing. You could also use a kitchen tool that spins the leaves when drying them. 
  3. Freeze the leaves: Transfer the baking sheet with the leaves to the freezer. Allow them to freeze completely until they are solid. Freezing basil typically takes a few hours for the leaves to freeze completely until they are solid. 
  4. Transfer to a freezer-safe container: Once the leaves are frozen, transfer them to a freezer-safe container or a freezer bag. This will help protect them from freezer burn and keep them fresh.

How long can basil be frozen?

When properly frozen and stored, thai basil can retain its quality for up to 6 months. However, note that the flavor may not be as intense as fresh leaves, so you may want to use a slightly larger amount in your recipes.

How To Thaw and Use Frozen Basil

  1. Trim as needed: If desired, you can trim off the frozen basil by using scissors directly into the ingredents of a recipe. 
  2. Thaw and use: When you are ready to use the frozen basil, simply take out of the container the amount you need and let it thaw at room temperature. You can also add the frozen pieces of basil directly to your cooking pot or pan if preferred. However, note that the flavor may not be as intense as fresh leaves, so you may want to use a slightly larger amount in your recipes.

Basil and Olive Oil Cubes

To preserve Thai basil in cube form using ice cube trays and olive oil, follow these steps:

thai basil in ice cube trays and frozen cubes
  1. Start by removing the leaves from the stem of the Thai basil. Discard the stems and keep only the fresh leaves.
  2. Give the leaves a thorough wash to remove any dirt or impurities. Ensure that the leaves are clean before proceeding.
  3. Dry the leaves completely by patting them gently with a paper towel or using a salad spinner. It’s important to remove any excess moisture to prevent ice crystals from forming.
  4. Take an ice cube tray with a lid and place the dry leaves into each compartment. Fill the compartments with enough leaves so you can cover them with the oil.
  5. Next, pour olive oil over the basil leaves in each compartment. The oil will act as a sealant, preserving the freshness and flavor of the basil.
  6. Carefully transfer the tray to the freezer and allow the basil cubes to freeze completely. This process usually takes several hours or overnight.

How To Cook with Olive Oil and Basil Cubes

When you make frozen olive oil and basil cubes,  there are various ways to utilize the cubes. Enhance your dishes by adding these cubes directly to sautéed vegetables, homemade pasta sauces, soups, and stews. The cubes will quickly thaw, releasing the aromatic flavors of Thai basil.

Additionally, crush a few basil cubes to create flavorful marinades or dressings, where the olive oil in the cubes helps emulsify the mixture, while imparting the characteristic basil aroma.

Make Pesto Cubes

Making pesto freezer cubes is a great way to preserve Thai basil.  

pest with thai basil leaves, garlic and salt around a bowl

To make Thai Basil Pesto, you will need about 4 cups of fresh Thai basil leaves packed into a measuring cup. You will also need 1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, 1 cup of pine nuts or walnuts, a cup of extra-virgin olive oil, and a pinch of salt.
1. In a food processor, combine the basil leaves, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and garlic cloves. Pulse until everything is well combined and coarsely chopped into a basil puree.
2. With the food processor running, slowly pour in the olive oil. Process until the mixture forms a smooth and creamy consistency.
3. Taste and add salt as needed. Adjust the amount of Parmesan cheese and garlic according to your preference.
4. Once the pesto is ready, you can use it immediately or store it for later use.
5. To store the pesto, divide it into ice cube trays. Each cube in a standard ice cube tray holds about 1 tablespoon of pesto.
6. Place the ice cube trays in the freezer and let the pesto freeze completely, usually taking 3 to 4 hours.
7. Once frozen, remove the pesto cubes from the ice cube trays and transfer them to a freezer bag.
8. Label the bag with the date and contents.
9. Store the cubes in the freezer for up to 6 months.
10. When you need pesto , remove as many cubes as you need from the tray and add them to your cooking pot or pan. The frozen pesto cubes will defrost quickly and add a fantastic flavor to your dish.
You can also use the pesto cubes to spread sandwiches or wraps. Just let them thaw a bit and heat them up in the microwave or in a saucepan until warm. The pesto also works really well in this chickpea salad with Pesto and Feta recipe.

This way, you can have fresh pesto on hand whenever you need it. Simply make your favorite pesto recipe and then use it to fill up ice cube trays and keep them in the freezer.

How To Dry Whole Basil Plants

Drying whole  Thai basil plants is a great way to easily preserve them for up to a year if sealed in an air-tight container. 

To hang large bundles of Thai basil in a dry place to dry, follow these steps:

thai basil in a large bundle outside
  1. Harvest the basil: Start by gathering mature Thai basil plants. Ensure that the leaves are vibrant. It’s best to harvest the basil in the morning when the essential oils are at their peak.
  2. Bundle the basil: Take a handful of Thai basil stems and gather them together, making sure all the stems are aligned at the base. A good-sized bundle should contain around 10 to 15 stems.
  3. Secure the bundle: Use a string or twine to tie the base of the bundle tightly. Make a secure knot to ensure that the basil stays together during the drying process.
  4. Find a suitable drying location: Look for a dry and well-ventilated area in your home. Ideally, choose a cool and dark place to preserve the flavor and color of the basil. A well-ventilated room or a hanging rack in the kitchen would work well.
  5. Hang the bundles: Attach the tied end of the basil bundle to a hook or hanger. Ensure that the bundles are hung upside down, as this allows for better airflow and prevents mold growth. Make sure there’s enough space between each bundle for air circulation.
  6. Wait for the basil to dry: Leave the bundles hanging undisturbed in the drying area for about two to three weeks. The drying time may vary depending on humidity levels and the thickness of the stems. The dry basil is ready when the leaves are crispy and crumble easily.
  7. Store the dried basil: Once the basil is completely dry, remove the leaves from the stems and store in an airtight container, such as a glass jar or a zip-lock bag. Keep the container in a cool, dark place, away from direct sunlight and heat sources.

Dying Basil In A Dehydrator

Dried basil leaves will keep for several months and can be used in any recipe that calls for fresh basil. You can also crumble them up and use them as a garnish on salads or pasta dishes. They are especially delicious in this Fresh Tomato Basil Soup recipe.

If you want to dry your basil a bit quicker than hanging the plants to dry, you can use a food dehydrator. I use a big food dehydrator that is very similar to this one.

  1. Start by selecting fresh basil leaves from your plant, ensuring they are clean and free from any dirt or debris. Gently wash them under running water and pat them dry with a paper towel.
  2. Next, separate the stems because they can be tough and do not dry well. Discard the stems or save them for other recipes.
  3. Arrange the leaves in a single layer on the dehydrator trays. Leave space between the leaves to allow proper airflow for even drying.
  4. Set the dehydrator to a low temperature, typically around 95°F (35°C). Drying the basil at a low temperature helps to preserve its flavor and aromatic qualities.
  5. Leave the leaves in the dehydrator for approximately 4-6 hours. The exact drying time may vary depending on the thickness and moisture content of the leaves.
  6. Periodically check the leaves during the drying process to ensure they are drying evenly. Rotate the trays if necessary.
  7. Once the leaves are completely dry and brittle, they are ready to be removed from the dehydrator. You can test their dryness by crumbling a leaf between your fingers – it should easily crumble without any moisture.
  8. Allow the dried basil  to cool completely before storing them. This helps to prevent any residual moisture from causing mold or spoilage.
  9. Store in an airtight container to maintain their freshness and flavor. You can use glass jars or resealable plastic bags. Make sure to label the container with the date to keep track of its shelf life.
  10. Place the container in a cool, dark, and dry pantry or cupboard. Avoid storing them in direct sunlight or near heat sources, as this can degrade their quality.

Make Basil Butter

Basil butter is another excellent way to preserve your Thai basil. This is a wonderful way to add fresh basil taste to a variety of dishes.

thai basil butter sliced into circles

1. Begin by thoroughly washing the basil plants. This step is crucial to remove any dirt or residue.
2. Gently remove the leaves from the stems, as the stems are not needed for making basil butter. Discard the stems.
3. To dry the leaves, you have two options: 
  a. Use a salad spinner by placing the leaves inside and spinning them until they are dry. This method helps remove excess moisture efficiently.
  b. Alternatively, you can lay the leaves on a clean towel, fold the towel over them, and gently pat them dry. This method works well too.
4. Once the leaves are dry, transfer them to a food processor. Add a few garlic cloves as well.
5. Pulse the mixture in the food processor until everything is finely chopped. This step ensures the flavors of basil and garlic are well incorporated.
6. Transfer the chopped basil mixture to a bowl.
7. Add softened butter to the bowl and thoroughly mix it with the basil mixture. Incorporate the butter evenly to achieve a uniform basil butter.
8. The basil butter can be used immediately, or you can choose to store it for later use.
9. If storing, transfer the basil butter to an airtight container and keep it in the refrigerator.
10. Basil butter can be refrigerated for several weeks, allowing you to enjoy its freshness over an extended period. You could also freeze in into ice cube trays and it will remain fresh for up to three months if covered tightly.

Use your homemade basil butter in a variety of recipes that call for butter. It adds a delightful flavor to grilled meats, vegetables, and acts as a delicious spread on sandwiches or toast.

Make Basil Vinegar

Basil vinegar can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Create a refreshing salad dressing by combining basil vinegar, olive oil, honey, and salt. It can also be used as a marinade for meats like chicken, pork, or beef, adding a delightful twist to your dishes.

Incorporate basil vinegar into recipes that call for vinegar to elevate the taste of sauces, soups, or stir-fries. Experiment with different recipes and enjoy the unique basil flavor it brings to your culinary creations.

thai basil in vinegar jars
  1. Begin by thoroughly washing the fresh Thai basil leaves and using a salad spinner to dry them completely.
  2. Take a clean and dry glass jar or bottle and place the dried basil leaves inside.
  3. Pour white vinegar over the leaves, ensuring that they are fully submerged. The vinegar acts as a preservative and extracts the flavor from the basil.
  4. Seal the jar or bottle tightly and store it in a cool, dark place for a minimum of two weeks. This allows the basil’s essence to infuse into the vinegar, creating a delightful flavor.
  5. After two weeks, strain out the basil leaves from the vinegar using a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth. This ensures a smooth and clear vinegar.
  6. Transfer the infused basil vinegar to a clean, airtight container and store it in a cool, dark place. Proper storage will keep the basil vinegar fresh and flavorful for several months.

Gina’s Tips To Help Preserve Your Basil 

There are many different ways that you can preserve Thai basil. These are just a few of the most popular methods. Experiment and find the method that works best for you and your family. Whatever method you choose, you’ll surely enjoy the fresh taste of Thai basil all year long!

flowers with butterfly on thai basil

How to Keep Thai Basil Fresh Before Preserving

If you have a bundle of fresh herb stems from a Thai basil plant that you would like to keep fresh for a few days before you preserve it, you can do the following. 

To preserve cut Thai basil  in water and maintain their freshness, follow these simple steps:

  1. Begin by trimming the tips of the stems. This will create open channels for the plant to draw up water and help it stay fresh for longer.
  2. Next, remove any leaves that will be submerged in the water. By doing so, you prevent the leaves from rotting or becoming slimy, which can compromise the quality of the basil.
  3. Place the trimmed Thai basil stems in a vase or large glass jar filled with fresh water. Make sure the container is clean and free from any lingering impurities that could affect the basil’s longevity.
  4. Find a cool place to keep the basil. Ideally, it should be stored away from direct sunlight, as excessive heat can accelerate the wilting process. A pantry, refrigerator, or a shaded spot on the kitchen counter are good options. 

Can I preserve sweet basil vs Thai basil?

When it comes to preserving Thai basil, you may wonder if you can substitute it with sweet basil. While they share similarities, Thai basil has a unique flavor with hints of licorice and mint, adding a distinctive taste to Thai dishes.

Sweet basil, on the other hand, has a milder and sweeter flavor. If you want to preserve the true essence of Thai flavors, stick with Thai basil. Keeping this in mind, you can use sweet basil for all these preserving methods instead. 

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