Has anyone successfully overwintered their basil & oregano? A freeze will be coming soon. I need to cut all my basil or cover it. If I were to cut it, could I just let it set out till it dries, then store in fridge? I stored some fresh cut in a plastic bag & it turned black. Is it still good to us?
If you wish to keep fresh basil for cooking- many freeze it into ice cubes, basil for the most part isn't happy being moved inside, and needs a pot with lots of space and deep enuff for a long taproot to survive. Some do better indoors than others, but are done best by seeds.
I read that basil can be cut & put in a vase of water. It can be kept on the kitchen counter for weeks. Sometimes it will grow roots, which then you can plant. Also, it can be dried by hanging upside down until it dries. Then store it in a airtight container. I guess I'll make myself some vases of greens & set them around as decoration until I use it up. Then I'll cover whatever remains outside & hope it makes it through the winter.
Basil is pretty "iffy" in my experience. I only grow Greek Columnar Basil for the reason that it doesn't flower (usually) and won't need cutting seed heads off. I have kept it growing in water on a windowsill all winter, only to lose it in the spring when I pot it in soil. So this year I rooted it is potting mix and have the plant inside- so far so good, but it is sort of wimpy due to the indoor climate. If it will just survive I will be happy! We have a long winter ahead, and it has only started! I am anxious for the seed catalogs to start coming in the mail!
I have preserved my Basil for many years. My basil plants always freeze and dye in our winter.
I normally have fresh basil from May until November, even if when it start to flower its flavor is reduced.
But the bees love the Basil's flowers ... so I normally leave a few plants for them until they will dye.
Here is what it works best for me and this technique preserve the Basil's flavor and most of all the bright green color.
1. Select the best Basil leaves and wash them
2. Bring a large pot to a boil (do NOT ad salt to keep the boiling temperature)
3. Cook the Basil leaves for 2-3 minutes, making sure that they are all under water.
4. Shock them on an ice bath until they feel cool
5. Drain them and squeeze out excess water. Also use a paper towel to absorb the water.
6. Put the whole leaf inside a small ziplock bag. Try to pack so the leaves are 1/4" thick and no more. So you are making what looks like flat rectangles.
7. Freeze bags one on top of each other (so they will stay flat)
When you will need some Basil in your cooking, you can just snap with your fingers a piece of the frozen Basil leaves. So yummy !
If you planted it in a large pot, wrapped the pot for insulation, then tented it with some perforated plastic during the winter (Territorial Seeds sells an excellent product), it would get air, water, and sunlight, and possibly not freeze, perhaps?
Easy way to dry basil -- wash and dry basil stems and put into small paper lunch bag. Close the bag. You're done.
Okay, you can shake the bag every once in awhile if you want, it really doesn't matter. A few weeks later, open the bag and discover dry basil. It only takes a moment to push all the dried leaves off the stem. Put into a baggie or spice bottle. Laugh at spending $3 for a tiny jar of dried basil at the grocery store. :-)
I have successfully used kittriana's method mentioned above of cutting up fresh basil, putting it in ice cube trays with a little water to hold it together. Once the ice cubes form I remove them and store in freezer bags. Then I just throw the cubes into sauces and stews or salad dressings as needed. Or I defrost the cube in a strainer and add the chopped basil to the salad. The basil retains its nice strong flavor and color. I've tried drying in the microwave and in a dehydrator but find the flavor is not the same.
This year I had an even better results using the method below, than to use the ice cube methods.
I did blanch for just one minute the whole Basil leaf. Shocked on an ice bath and dried them with a cloth.
Put the leaves on a zip lock bag. Push the air out and flat the whole bag, to be 1/4" tall.
When I need the Basil, I just break off a piece from this "frozen package".
The leaf maintains its bright green color and also its best flavor.