How to Store Fresh Basil – The Easy Way

Did you just buy some basil? Or did you harvest basil from your garden? Are you wondering how to store fresh basil leaves or how to preserve them?

What is the best way to store fresh basil?

If you’re trying to get all the health benefits of basil or medicinal uses of basil, but you are not sure how to preserve basil from the garden or store it correctly, you’re in the right place!

This guide is all about how to store fresh basil leaves.

What to Do With Fresh Basil

There are many uses for fresh basil, but the majority of people use basil to cook with. Culinary uses for basil leaves include:

  • Seasoning food
  • Garnishing a meal
  • Making basil oil
  • Using the leaves as a side dish, like in this fried basil recipe

You can find other recipes with basil here.  


Growing and Harvesting Basil

Are you wondering how to grow basil yourself?

Basil is an easy and quick plant to grow. You may want to look into growing them aquaponically.

Here is an article that shows you how to make 5 easy aquaponic systems and an article on the benefits of backyard aquaponics to get you started.

If you’re growing your own basil plants (you may even be using hydroponics and tower systems), you might find that you can skip some extra steps and not worry about storing basil.

If you continue to keep the plant alive and growing, harvesting only what is needed will reduce the need for storage.

This can be good in the short-term before winter comes, or if you live in a place with good weather conditions all year-round.

Basil should be harvested somewhat frequently (every couple of weeks) in order to keep the plant healthy and thriving.

If you’re unsure of how to harvest basil, check out this article.

But, if you’re wondering how to keep basil fresh after picking – especially if you harvested too much! – continue reading to learn how to store the leftovers.


The Best Way to Store Fresh Basil

Any of the methods mentioned below are effective ways of storing basil. Choose a method depending on your preference and needs.

Your choice may differ if you’re buying basil from the store or growing it yourself. Now, let’s get on with it!

What You’ll Need to Store Fresh Basil

What You Need

For Keeping it Fresh

  • A vase or cup large enough for cuttings
  • A plastic bag such as a produce bag or any lightweight material without holes you can find

For Drying it Out

  • Oven and baking sheet
  • Parchment paper
  • Airtight containers
  • List Element
  • List Element

For Freezing it

  • Freezer
  • Ice cube tray
  • Freezer bag

A neat option for drying would be using a dehydrator instead of an oven. Although it takes longer than an oven, it has a ton of other uses that may be worth the investment.

3 Steps to Storing Fresh Basil

Now that you have your own basil plant ready, follow these easy steps to storing and keeping them fresh!

Step #1. Storing Fresh Basil with a Plastic Bag

To store basil leaf cuttings with a plastic bag, you’re going to need a vase or cup big enough to hold the cuttings and a thin plastic bag like the ones you can find in the produce section of the grocery store.

After filling the vase or cup with a few inches of lukewarm water, place the cuttings in.

Then take the plastic bag and loosely cover the leaves. Do not tightly wrap or crush the leaves. The bag should be loose to allow the leaves to breathe.

Place the basil in an area that is room temperature. Basil will wilt quickly if it's too cold or if it’s placed in the fridge.

Be sure to change the water out every two days and to use the basil within a week before it goes bad.

If you’re buying basil leaves from the store, cutting an inch off the ends of the stem will help it absorb water.

Step #2. How to Preserve Fresh Basil by Drying it

If you’re having trouble eating all your fresh basil before it goes bad, it might be time to try another option. This step will show you how to dry fresh basil.

For this method, you’re going to need to use your oven, a baking sheet, airtight containers, and some parchment paper.

Spread out the basil leaves on parchment paper on the baking sheet. Put your oven on the lowest temperature and place the baking sheet on the top rack.

In 2-4 hours of baking, the basil should start to break apart from touch. Check periodically by trying to mash a leaf. It should easily crumble.

Take the baking sheet out, let it cool and start crumbling the basil into airtight containers. 

Store in a dry place at room temperature. Your basil should be good for 1-2 years – if it lasts that long before you eat it!

If you are using a dehydrator, place the leaves on a tray and set the temp to 90 degrees.

Dehydrators take a long time. The basil will be dried in 6-12 hours.

A neat trick to save time is to spread the basil onto a microwave-safe plate and microwave them a minute at a time until they begin to crumble.

Step #3. How to Store Fresh Basil by Freezing it

This step will show you how to freeze fresh basil.

For this method, you’re going to need to use your freezer and freezer bags. And if you decide to freeze them in cubes, you will need an ice cube tray.  

The easiest way to freeze basil with limited effort is to take the whole leaves and stick them in a freezer bag to freeze.

Make sure the leaves are completely dried and make sure to press all the air out of the bag before sealing it.

Another option is to freeze the basil in ice cube trays.

Break down the leaves small enough to fit into the cubes on the tray. Then add water to the cubes and freeze.

After you have frozen ice cubes with basil inside, pop the ice out of the cubes and store it in a freezer bag.

These ice cubes are great for soups and sauces when you don’t want to worry about chopping later on. And, they will last 4-6 months in the freezer.  

If you’re going to break down the leaves by cutting or slicing, don’t cut the leaves with a knife or scissors. Tear them instead to keep the best possible flavor.


Which Method Should You Choose?

Storing basil comes with a lot of options.

The best option for you comes down to your situation, how much effort you want to put into it, and how you’ll want to use the basil.

Do you want to use it as a seasoning and have it in a spice jar for easy reach? The drying method may be the best one for you.

Do you want to be able to grab chunks of basil and throw it into meals? If so, the freezing method is a great one.

If you’re planning on using it quickly, then the vase and plastic bag method may be the right one for you.

If you now have the confidence to store your basil and keep it fresh, you may also be interested in checking out our articles on How To Store Onions, or How To Compost In An Apartment.

What did you think about this tutorial? Share on social media with your thoughts and your favorite foods with basil. 

If this tutorial was helpful, let a friend know!

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