There are more than 60 varieties of basil, each with its own distinct flavors; some of which include hints of lemon, thyme, jasmine, clove, cinnamon and anise.
Snip off the bottom of the unwashed basil stems. Fill a jar or a water glass partially with water; place the stem ends of the herbs into the water in the container. Loosely cover the jar of basil with a plastic bag and store at room temperature. Change the water after several days if the water starts to discolor. Fresh basil can last up to 2 weeks or longer when stored this way.
Freezing is the preferred method of storing basil. Place basil leaves in a plastic freezer bag; this will keep them fresh for at least 1 year.
Freeze fresh chopped basil by placing 2 teaspoons into each ice cube mold, fill the remaining space with water. Once frozen, pop the ice cubes out of the tray and put into a plastic freezer bag for storage. When needed, just remove the quantity you need and either thaw in a strainer or put the whole herbed ice cube into your mixture.
You can also freeze oil concentrates, which consists of adding basil to oil. Place the basil leaves in your food processor, add extra-virgin olive oil until it just covers the leaves. Process into a thick consistency and freeze; when needed, take some out of the bag and add it to your mix. This is a good way to preserve basil for dressings and pesto.
Dried basil will retain its complexity and flavor for up to 1 year. However, basil tends to lose some essential oil and flavoring during the drying process. Once dried, store it in an airtight container, away from heat and light.
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