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Best Way to Preserve Basil {Simple Basil Pesto}

by Shirley
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Best Way to Preserve Basil when you have lots of them

I grow lots of fresh herbs in my vegetable garden during the growing season. Basil is absolutely one of my favorites, which has a unique, pleasant smell and flavor. However, when you harvest loads of them at a time, you will need solutions to preserve this delicious and superfood herb. If you are searching for best way to preserve basil to use in the next 12 months, search no more. I am so glad you are here. The method I am going to show you is perhaps the easiest and effective way to preserve basil. It is quick and effortless, while basil maintains the most flavor and taste for a rather long time. You can then use it in dishes such as Basil Chicken with black pepper, Basil Chicken with Soy Sauce, or well-liked Taiwanese Three Cup Tofu or chicken.

Best Way to Preserve Basil When you have lots of them

Basil Fun Facts

Basil is an aromatic green leafy herb that belongs to the mint family. While they are well-known for Italian or Mediterranean cuisine, basil actually originated in Asia and Africa.

Basil’s Chinese name is called “Qian Ceng Ta {千层塔}“, literally translates as thousands of layers of a pagoda. Perhaps aiming to portray the layered basil leaves which keep growing taller layer after layer. It is especially popular in areas such as Taiwan and contributes to classic three-cup dishes.

There are many varieties of basil. I think we grew at least two types of basil in our backyard vegetable garden this year.

The small, round, and smooth leafy one is sweet basil, which is most widely grown and most commonly seen in the grocery store. Sweet basil is popular with Italian food.

The large, wrinkled, and pointy leafy one is lettuce basil. They work especially well in salads.

Varieties of Basil Growing in Our Vegetable Garden

Basil Health Benefits

Basil is an extremely healthy and nutritious herb that contains rich essential vitamins and minerals. Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Calcium, Iron and Manganese. Just to name a few.

Regarding its health benefits, experts believe basil can help restore our body and mind in many ways. For instance, mitigate stress, fight against aging, reduce blood pressure, improve cholesterol, prevent certain cancers, so on and forth.

It is truly an amazing herb, highly recommend for every home vegetable garden.

Best way to preserve basil is to turn basil into a Simple Basil Pesto

If you just harvested loads of basil from your garden, the best way to preserve them for later use is perhaps turning them into a Simple Basil Pesto.

Simple Basil Pesto for preserving basil

Package them in individual small pouches such as ziplock snack bags and then store in the freezer for later use.

For the Simple Basil Pesto, all you need is a pinch of salt, either Himalayan pink salt or sea salt, and a splash of virgin olive oil.

Sometime I include capers, and/or black pepper for enhanced flavor, but they both are optional.

Simple Basil Pesto Ingredients

How to preserve basil to use for the next 8-12 months?

First is to turn the basil into a pesto using a food processor. To prevent the oxidation and preserve the green color, blanch the basil in boiling water briefly and then rinse in the ice cold water.

turn basil into pesto to preserve basil

Second is to package Simple Basil Pesto in small snack size bags, try to squeeze out as much air as possible, and then place into a quarter-size freezer bag.

When the time comes to use the basil, simply remove one small bag from the freezer. Take out the mini-popsicle like pesto, use a knife to cut into the desired portion and then use in the dishes.

store fresh herb {basil or sage) pesto in snack size bags
Best Way to Preserve Basil When you have lots of them

Simple Basil Pesto {Best Way to Preserve Basil}

Yield: 24 servings
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

When you have loads of fresh basil, turning them into a a Simple Basil Pesto and store in the freezer in small batches is perhaps the best way to preserve basil.


  • 0.5 lb fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 tsp Himalayan pink salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper, optional
  • 1/4 cup virgin olive oil
  • 12 g capers, about 1/2 tablespoonful, optional


  • Wash and rinse basil thoroughly. Remove the fibery stems and only keep leaves. Gather ingredients.
    Simple Basil Pesto Ingredients
  • Optional step - Blanch the Basil to prevent oxidation and preserve the green color.
  1. Fill a large stockpot with water and bring it to a boil, about 15 minutes.
  2. Add basil into the boiling water, and use a stainless steel skimmer to push down the basil so that they are fully submerged underneath the water.
  3. Immediately remove them from the boiling water and place them into a large basin filled with ice-cold water.
  4. Remove the basil from the ice-cold water, and gently squeeze to get rid of the extra water.
  • Add basil into a food processer, and fill the chamber up to 80%, loosely packed. Turn on the powder and chop it into coarse pieces. Remove from the food processor and set aside. Repeat until you have chopped all basil into coarse pieces. Do not overdo it, just enough to barely chop the basil into coarse pieces.
    chop basil into coarse pieces first for making pesto
  • Add all the coarsely chopped basil into the food processor, and add olive oil and salt. If you decide to use black pepper and cappers, add them now too.
    coarsely chopped basil in the food processor for making pesto
  • Turn the power on and chop/grind into a smooth paste.
    turn basil into pesto to preserve basil
  • Package the simple basil pesto into small snack ziplock bags. Fill the bag up to about 75%, squeeze out the air out and seal the bag. This recipe works for other herbs such as sage too.
    Basic Sage Pesto packaged into small portions
  • Add small packages into a quarter-szie freezer ziplock bag, squeeze out as much air as possible and then seal and store in the freezer.
    store fresh herb {basil or sage) pesto in snack size bags

When you are ready to use the Simple Basil Pesto:

  1. Remove one small package from the freezer, and take out the popcicle-looking simple basil pesto. and place on a cutting board.
  2. Use a knife to cut the portion desired and use it for recipes.
  3. Reseal the small package and put it back in the freezer.
Nutrition Information
Yield 24 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 22Total Fat 2gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 2gCholesterol 0mgSodium 28mgCarbohydrates 0gFiber 0gSugar 0gProtein 0g

Nutrition calculation is provided by Nutritionix to the best knowledge per ingredients description and isn't always accurate.

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