Preserve the aroma, flavor, and brilliant color of your bounty of basil with this easy method. Presented in a pretty bottle, infused oil makes a welcome gift.
2 handfuls of freshly harvested sweet basil, rinsed & stemmed
1 part cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
4 parts mild vegetable oil, such as sunflower (combined oils = about a quart)
Bring a pot of water to simmering. Drop in basil leaves and blanch for just a few seconds. You don’t want to cook it; you simply want to halt the enzyme process and help to release flavor. Drain, then spread basil leaves onto a clean kitchen towel and pat dry.
Meanwhile, warm the combined oils in an appropriately sized pot. Don’t overheat; oil should not be hot enough to cook the basil. Remove from heat and allow the mixture to infuse for a couple of hours.
Pour the mixture into blender, cover and blend until the leaves become part of the liquid.
Using a fine mesh strainer, separate the oil from the pulp. Oil should be a brilliant green and very fragrant. If you like, you may strain a second time through a double layer of cheesecloth. I usually skip this step.
Bottle your basil oil, cover tightly, and use right away or store *refrigerated* for up to a few weeks. Refrigeration is necessary to prevent spoiling.
Yield: about a quart.