Herbal or citrus ice

July 5, 2010

Author Notes: Well I was actually experimenting with making a sun tea from staghorn sumac berries recently, where I strained the berries to yield a pale pink lemonesque beverage. Somehow, I wanted to include the fuzzy berries, without them being a nuisance to the drink itself...so I froze some of the drink with some of the berries in an ice cube tray: Don't! The basil is too thin and it will oxidize. But your can use herbs with tougher more leathery leaves. Citrus peels will also work well. Since basil leaves are very thin, if you want to use them in an ice cube, it is best to infuse the water first and then remove the leaves before freezing. Using basil in the ice cube itself may look nice for a short time, but the leaves tend to turn a bit slimy when the cube melts. Sagegreen

Serves: a tray of ice cubes


  • 12-24 select varietal basil leaves, pineapple, lemon, or sweet basil as appropriate for your drink
  • Lime and/or lemon rind twists (optional)
  • 3 cups filtered water or other beverage for ice cubes
  • Serve these with your desired drink.
In This Recipe


  1. Roll, snip, and bruise the basil leaves into a chiffonade, or work with the whole leaves, depending upon how much flavor you want to impart to the drink. Infuse them in the water. Let these sit until you have enough flavor for your taste. Then remove the leaves. Only if you are working with another herb with tough leaves should you consider leaving the leaf in the water for ice cubes!
  2. Add 1 1/2 cups of basil infused water to an ice cube tray. Add any desired lemon and/ or lime rinds. Then pop in the freezer.
  3. About 4 hours later fill the ice cube tray with the remaining basil water. Freeze solid.
  4. Serve with the liquid of your choice. See some of the options in the photos and consider other choices like those suggested above.

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Reviews (9) Questions (0)

9 Reviews

fraîchement August 1, 2010
I love this! I am reminded of a delicious basil lemonade I had the other day.
Author Comment
Sagegreen August 1, 2010
Thanks. I have found that these do work really well, but do not hold up for a longer haul. Over time the ice seems to break the tender basil leaf down; they get a bit slimy over time. I think mint leaves would be similar. Just wanted to pass along that caution.The berries that I have done work really well and the citrus rinds have held up really well though over the weeks.
dymnyno July 10, 2010
What an idea....infuse the water with basil and then add fresh basil leaves and freeze!
bobzaguy July 7, 2010
I have used whole basil sprigs in my vodka tonics for quite a few years now. It is something to stir the drink with. Never thought to put the basil in the cubes. Nice idea.
Author Comment
Sagegreen July 7, 2010
Thanks! That's great to know. I am in Budapest as I write, so hope to discover some new ideas in between work sessions here.
mrslarkin July 5, 2010
Beautiful! I do this with violets in the Spring.
Author Comment
Sagegreen July 5, 2010
Thanks so much! I love trying. Wouldn't it be great if Food52 could organize some kind of photo class, especially with Sarah?
gingerroot July 5, 2010
What a great, easy way to preserve basil without having to make pesto. I may just have to try these in a Bloody Mary as you suggested...
Author Comment
Sagegreen July 5, 2010
Thanks, gingerroot. Do feel free to use the full basil leaf, as well, in the middle of the cubes. Otherwise, I found that the chiffonade floats to the top of the cube while making these and after it is frozen, then pops out of the melting cube too quickly in the drink, as you can see in my photos. If I were not busy packing, I would love to try the Bloody Mary! Cheers.