The temperatures dropped precipitously yesterday… from a high of 75 in the morning, to a low of 65 by 3pm. A sure sign that autumn is here. I raced into the garden to harvest as much basil as I could before the plants started to feel the chill… causing the leaves to yellow and fall off (much like the New England foliage).
Some people preserve basil for the winter by making large batches of pesto. I’ve opted against this method because I don’t want to commit to that flavor profile. Instead, ’ve pureed the leaves with olive oil and froze them in ice cube trays. The flavor preserves nicely, but the color fades to a drab army green.
This year, I’m trying something different.
I picked the leaves, and laid them on a cookie sheet to freeze. I didn’t wash them – the water hastens the discoloration. More importantly, the residual moisture would cause the leaves to stick together, and I wanted IQF leaves. I’m not worried about dirt, either. The weather has been so dry that the leaves are quite pristinely clean.
When I transferred the leaves to Ziploc bag for the longer term storage, the color was still bright green, though slightly translucent. I imagine that they would be best used to add to a dish for the last 30 seconds of cooking – they hold their color and flavor, but not the texture of fresh green leaves.