Talk about summer in a jar – Basil Oil is the hands down winner in my book. I make it by the gallon and freeze for use all winter. Once you see how easy it is, I hope you give it a try.
First things first, let’s get our hands on some fresh basil – either from the garden or a local farm stand or farmer’s market. This happy little bunch came right from our garden.
Get a big old pot of water boiling, and while that’s happening, give that basil a nice cool bath for a few minutes. Before going into the cool water, snip off the tough lower stems. Go on ahead and leave all the flowers on – it won’t make one bit of difference in the long haul. Once your water is boiling, lower the basil into the water and allow it to sit there for just about 10 seconds, then scoop it on out and immediately into a sink full of cold water. Here’s why this is critical: the hot water will arrest the enzymes in the basil that turn it brown. If you skip this step, your oil will be a brown, murky mess. This I know because, being the lazy person I am, I attempted bypassing this step the first time I made it and ended up with something that looked like swamp water that I had to throw away. You can see the color stays as bright green when you put it into the water as when you take it out – that’s the look you’re going for. In:
Into the cold water!
When your basil is nice and cool, scoop it out and lay on a thick towel, then I usually put another towel over the top and press down until most of the liquid is gone. See? Still green! We are on the right track!
Next, time for ingredient and gear assembly. You will need olive oil and some salt. Also standing by, have a fine mesh strainer (or cheesecloth, but I despise using that stuff because it is such a mess) that is sitting over a bowl. First into the food processor goes the olive oil and a generous pinch salt. Then in goes your basil. Process until the mixture is super smooth – this might take from 30-60 seconds. Immediately pour your basil puree into the strainer over the bowl and let the oil drip out. You’re really not supposed to use a rubber spatula to push the puree down because solids that should remain in the strainer will come out. But I cannot help myself since I am impatient so end up fiddling with it, and pushing as gently as I can. And yes, some solids come through, but they settle to the bottom of the bowl so you don’t have to use them if you don’t want to.
And that’s all there is to it!! Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, or pop it in the freezer for later use. This stuff freezes beautifully and looks and tastes as good as fresh a year later. Here’s nearly a gallon of fresh made:
Drizzle on steamed vegetables or grains, toss with some beans, pour over grilled shrimp, dip in big crusty pieces of artisan bread. You can see where I’m going with this. I love it generously spooned over a bowl of Jasmine rice. Excuse me while I eat the whole thing…
Hope you like it as much as I do. Happy summer days to all! xoxox
- 1 cup fresh Basil leaves and stems, packed
- 1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt or to taste
- Give the basil a nice cool soak in water for about 15 minutes. Before doing so, cut off the tough bottom stems - go ahead and keep the flowers on if basil has flowered.
- Blanch basil in boiling water for abut 10 seconds, then immediatly remove to a sink full of cold water and leave there until leaves are cool. Remove from water and blot dry with a thick towel.
- Into a food processor in this order: olive oil, salt, and blanched basil. Blend for about one minute,or until mixture is very smooth.
- Strain through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth into a bowl (try not to press down or mixture might get cloudy – if you just have to, do so gently).
- KEEP REFRIGERATED WHEN NOT IN USE.
- USE WITHIN THREE WEEKS OR DISCARD – HERB OILS ARE NOT SAFE TO KEEP AROUND FOR A LONG PERIOD OF TIME.