Basil Cubes: Preserving Summer’s Bounty

Wouldn’t be nice if nature doled stuff out in little bite-sized parcels? A couple carrots here, a sprig of dill there, plus an ear or two of corn for you to roast with your beer brat? But noooo, that’s not how it works. One minute you’ve got tumbleweeds rolling through your refrigerator, the next minute you’re watching YouTube how-tos on pickling, saucing, and dehydrating—just so you can clear up some space in your crisper for the squash and zucchini that’s out there rotting on the vine.

Last month, I wrote about what to do if you had a cilantro blowout in your herb garden (cilantro pesto! Now it’s time to talk about basil—that leafy herb whose deep fragrance can make the simplest cheese-and-tomato sandwich something else entirely.

Now, basil’s a little sensitive. It doesn’t stick around too long after you chop it and bring it inside, but if you try to nurse a plant in the ground for too long, it’ll just give you the finger and go to seed. Also, it’s not one of those herbs that dries very well. It’s definitely best when it’s fresh. So, when the basil’s bangin’—that’s the time to act!

Here’s an easy, quick way to preserve fresh basil’s voluptuous perfume:

  1. Chop up a pile of the stuff and sprinkle it into ice-cube trays until they’re about half full.
  2. Fill the trays with water.
  3. Stick ’em in the freezer.
  4. Use at will.


P.S. This treatment works well for lots of different herbs, so don’t be shy.