Basil Preserved in Olive Oil

For week 2 of Preserve the Bounty, Jenny challenged us to preserve some of our summer produce in oil or another fat.

I’ve put together various combinations of garden-fresh herbs, calendula (marigold) flowers, sun-dried tomatoes, and chile peppers in olive oil before, and I really enjoyed the results. Allowing these foods to steep in a jar with olive oil keeps the marinated food(s) from spoiling and it gives the oil additional flavor. And despite reading about the possibility of botulism when preserving raw garlic in olive oil, I’ve done that, too (and I’m still here). I generally make very small batches of infused olive oils and I keep them in the refrigerator, just to be safe.

This time, I chose to make a very simple preparation of basil preserved in olive oil.

basil oil

You’ll want to start with a very clean and dry jar(s). Rinse your basil leaves very well, and then allow them to dry completely. It is important that there is no moisture on the basil…moisture can lead to mold formation (yuck). The amount of basil you’ll need will depend on the size of your jar. Again, I use very small jars and keep them in the refrigerator, so that they don’t spoil before I have a chance to use them up.

Pack your clean, dry basil leaves into your jar of choice. I mean it- really pack them in (I stuck a few borage flowers in, too, because I’ve got so many, and because they are so pretty). Sprinkle a little sea salt over the basil, if you like, and feel free to add in a fresh or dried chile pepper or two for a spicy kick. Now pour in some olive oil, so that all of the leaves are covered (this is very important…make sure all of the basil is below the top of the olive oil, or again, you may end up with mold).


Cap your jar tightly and place in the refrigerator (I’ve read that you can keep it at room temperature, but I just feel better with it in cold storage). Over time, your basil leaves may darken somewhat, but no worries…they are still edible. Feel free to use the basil in recipes or as a garnish, and you can use the oil to dress raw or cooked greens and other vegetables, or drizzle it over finished pasta or grain dishes, mix into eggs, etc.

basil oil close-up

Whenever you spoon some of the oil out, add more so that the basil in the jar always remains covered. It should keep for at least a couple of months in the refrigerator, possibly until long after basil season has passed, but make sure to discard it if it turns “funky” at all.

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18 thoughts on “Basil Preserved in Olive Oil”

  1. I’ve had success combining basil and olive oil in a food processor to make a paste and then freezing it in tablespoon sized blobs.

  2. I have done it before – failed. Because the basil is not dry enough. Now, I clean it and chop all up, put in ice-cube and leave it in freezer for few days. Then remove it from ice-cube and put in the box and leave it in freezer. When I need to use for cooking, just take out from freezer.

  3. I was just going to make peasto with my abundance of basil but I’d like to try this too! I like that you added the borage. Borage makes me smile! Other then salad, I didnt have any other ideas for the borage and now I do!

  4. Looks and sounds awesome. Especially for a nice pasta dinner. What kind of olive oil did you use? Extra virgin or just regular pure olive oil?

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  6. This is great! I have an abundance of basil and a lot of it goes to waste. What a great way to preserve it for later!

    ~Aubree Cherie

  7. I have never heard of this before…but what a great way to savor the lovely summer taste of basil during the fall and winter. Thanks for sharing!

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  9. This is a wonderful idea! My garden is bursting with basil and I know I’ll never use it all. I like that you can use both the preserved basil, as well as the flavored oil.

  10. Amazing idea! I just brought home a huge bouquet of fresh basil from my daugher-in-law’s garden. Yeah!!! I am very excited about this recipe!