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How to Store Basil

Basil is a popular herb that is widely used in many cuisines around the world. It is known for its distinct aroma and flavor that can enhance the taste of any dish. However, storing basil can be a challenge, as it is a delicate herb that can easily wilt and lose its flavor if not stored properly.

Fresh basil stored in water.
How to store basil.

Storing basil

Basil is a popular herb that is commonly used in various dishes. It has a unique flavor and aroma that can enhance the taste of any meal. However, basil can easily lose its flavor and freshness if it is not stored properly.

If you have ever bought a bunch of basil from the grocery store or harvested it from your garden, you know how quickly it can wilt and become unusable.

Fortunately, there are several ways to store basil that can help prolong its freshness and flavor.

Whether you want to store it in the fridge, freezer or preserve it in oil, there are simple and effective methods that can help you enjoy fresh basil all year round.

In this article, we will explore how to store basil to keep it fresh for longer. We will provide step-by-step instructions and tips to help you choose the best method for your needs.

How to store fresh basil

There are two basic approaches:

1. Stand in water

One of the best ways to store fresh basil is to put it in a vase or jar filled with water, just like you would with flowers.

Trim the ends, then stand the cut stems in a glass or jar of fresh water. Loosely cover the jar with a food-safe plastic bag or cling wrap to keep the leaves clean. Change the water every day or every other day to keep it fresh.

This will keep the basil fresh and green for several days.

2. In the fridge

If you want to keep your basil fresh for a longer period of time, you can store it in the fridge.

Store basil leaves in the refrigerator between two damp paper towels either in an air-tight container or a ziplock bag. Store the container in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.

Check the basil every couple of days and replace the paper towels as needed. 

This will keep the basil fresh for up to two weeks.

How to store fresh chopped basil

Chopped basil can be stored in oil for a few days. Place the chopped basil in a small container and cover with olive oil.

It also freezes well. See below for details.

How to store basil long term

If you want to store fresh basil for longer than 3 weeks you have a few options. The best option to choose will depend on how you want to use the basil.

In the freezer

You can also freeze fresh basil to use later. This is a great way to store fresh basil to flavor soups or sauces.

First, wash, then dry the basil with a paper towel. Then chop it up and place in an ice-cube tray. Cover with olive oil and freeze.

Then you can pop out a basil cube as needed and add it to your recipe. Basil can be frozen for up to six months.

Tip

To freeze basil without it turning black, you can blanch it prior to freezing. Place basil leaves in boiling water for a few seconds, then transfer to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.

Dry it

Drying basil is another way to preserve it for later use.

Tie the basil leaves together in small bundles and hang them upside down in a cool, dry place. Once the leaves are completely dry, remove them from the stems and store them in an airtight container.

Dried basil will last for up to a year if dried and stored correctly. However, as with many dried herbs, the flavor is not quite as good as when it was fresh.

>> Related post: How to Dry Basil

Some other ideas

Tips for storing basil

  1. Use the freshest basil possible. Either pick it right before you are ready to store it, or choose the freshest bunch of basil you can from the grocery store or farmers market. If harvesting your own, cut the basil stems from the top down, directly above a leaf node.
    >> Related article: How to Harvest Basil
  2. Prepare basil for storage. Trim the stems and remove any leaves that are wilted or discolored.
  3. Wash the basil before storing. Then wash the cut basil under fresh cold water to remove any surface dust or dirt, and spin dry in a salad spinner or gently pat dry on paper towels.

How to Store Fresh Basil

Fresh basil stored in water.

How to store basil to keep it good for weeks.

Materials

  • 1 bunch fresh basil [Note 1]

Tools

  • A large jar or drinking glass and a lid or plastic bag OR
  • An air-tight container and paper towels

Instructions

First, prepare the basil

  1. Remove any wilted or dead leaves from your bunch of basil.
  2. Wash the basil under fresh cold water to remove any surface dust or dirt
  3. Gently pat dry on paper towels.

Method 1: Stand in water

  1. Trim the ends of the basil stems (unless freshly harvested), then stand the stems in a glass or jar of cool water.
  2. Loosely cover the jar with a food-safe plastic bag or cling wrap to keep the leaves clean.
  3. Store the jar in the refrigerator.
  4. Change the water every couple of days to keep it fresh.

Method 2: Store in paper towels

  1. Line an air-tight container (or ziplock bag) with damp paper towels.
  2. Place the basil stems or leaves into the container and place another damp paper towel on top.
  3. Seal the container and store it in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.
  4. Check the basil every couple of days and replace the paper towels as needed. 

Fresh basil should keep for around two weeks if stored using one of these methods [Note 2].

Notes

  1. Use the freshest basil possible. Either pick it right before you are ready to store it, or choose the freshest bunch of basil you can from the grocery store or farmers market. 
  2. You will know it is time to throw it out when the basil starts to turn dark or slimy. 

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