Even though it wilts and loses its freshness quickly, basil remains the most commonly bought herb because of its unique taste and aroma.
To be able to enjoy it more, we’ll let you in on the best techniques on how to store fresh basil and the acceptable practices on how to keep them fresh.
How to store fresh basil? To save and store basil, you can either treat them like cut flowers by putting them in a vase with water, roll them up in kitchen paper in a sealable bag in the fridge, freeze them, or dry them.
If you’re looking to save a large amount of that basil you’ve bought for much later use, you’ve come to the right place.
What is Basil?
Basil is one of the most popular fresh herbs used in the kitchen. The term “basil” comes from the Old French word “basile,” which means “royal,” making basil the king of all herbs.
What is the best way to preserve fresh basil?
When preserving basil, think of what you’re going to use it for.
Will you serve it with raw ingredients, or will you be cooking with it?
For raw recipes such as salad greens, desserts, and cocktails, store the basil in the fridge or freeze it using one of the options discussed earlier.
For cooking use, however, you can pack flavor and aroma by drying the basil.
Different Ways on How to Store Fresh Basil
A bunch of basil is very delicate and can wilt even after a very short time if not stored correctly.
Here are different ways of storing basil to keep them fresh.
Store it at Room Temperature
For same-day use, keep basil at room temperature.
Once you’re ready to use them, remove the leaves from the stems and wash them in running water.
Bouquet in a Vase or Jar of Water
Have you noticed how a bouquet of fresh-cut flowers last for at least a week if you put them in a vase with water?
This method is also true when it comes to basil that’s freshly cut from a plant.
Trim a slight amount from the bottom end of each stem and place them together in a jar with water just enough not to touch any leaves.
Those who have done this method noticed that the basil stayed fresh for at least one to two weeks.
Put it in the fridge
The best way to prepare fresh basil leaves for a salad is to wash them clean, pat them dry, and chill them a bit in the fridge.
If the basil has used up all its time sitting on the counter at room temperature, take the leaves from the stems and roll them in a single layer on some paper towels.
Put the rolled basil in a plastic bag and let it rest inside the fridge.
Doing this will make the basil stay fresh for at least two more days.
It is always best to wash the basil leaves only when you are about to use them.
Putting wet and moist basil leaves in the fridge will cause them to rot and become unusable.
To store basil leaves for use after several months, you can freeze them.
Before freezing, prepare the basil leaves by blanching them in briskly boiling water for a few seconds.
Cool the blanched basil leaves with some ice water to stop the cooking process.
These steps lock in the appetizing green color of the leaves even after freezing for some time.
After blanching, dry the basil leaves with a kitchen towel to avoid ice buildup and freezer burns.
Freeze the basil leaves whole in a sealed freezer bag or chop them up and put them in ice cube trays with olive oil.
Can I freeze fresh basil without blanching?
Yes, definitely! There are a lot of instances where kitchen aficionados have frozen fresh basil leaves without blanching.
To do this, wash and dry the leaves and put them in a sealable plastic bag inside the freezer.
Sometimes, though, basil leaves frozen without blanching appear darker.
Another way of preserving the flavor and aroma of basil is by drying it.
You can tie stems of basil into a bundle and hang it in a shady place to dry the leaves within two to three weeks.
With a microwave oven, however, you can dry basil quickly.
To do this, lay the leaves on a baking sheet and put it in the oven with a setting of no more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit for about two to four hours.
Whichever way you dry them, perfectly dried basil leaves should be crunchy.
Crush them to bits or store them as is in a glass jar in your pantry.
How long does fresh basil last?
If planted correctly, a potted basil plant can last up to three months.
Once you harvest the stems of leaves from the plant, it can stay fresh for around eight days, similar to flowers on a vase at room temperature.
To extend this time, keep it in the refrigerator for up to a couple of days more.
Finally, there are ways to freeze basil to make them last for at least six months or up to a year.
What do I do with fresh basil?
Being the king of all herbs, you probably use fresh basil leaves in a variety of recipes.
Although it’s highly unlikely that you use it in all your recipes, there are times when you end up buying more than you need.
So, what should you do with all that extra basil?
You think of ways to store it for use at a later time. And for that, we’ve got your back.
Storing fresh basil is fairly straightforward.
If you are sure you’ll be using it within a week, keep it on the kitchen counter in a vase with water enough to reach its stems.
However, if you want access to basil during the cold months when a basil plant won’t successfully grow from a pot, freeze or dry them in batches whenever available.
You’ll be happy to kick off those recipes that use basil any season if you’ve prepared and stored them for a longer time.