4 Ways How to store fresh basil
Did you just buy some basil? Or did you harvest basil from your garden? There are three easy ways you can keep your basil fresh.
One of which is super effective that you can have fresh basil leaves and retain the basil flavor for a whopping 6 months!
Sounds interesting? Here’s how you can store and preserve fresh basil.
- 1. Store in a plastic bag
- 2. Wrapped In A Paper Towel
- 3. Dry it out for years of preservation
- 4. Freeze it
- Final Thoughts – Which Method Should You Choose?
1. Store in a plastic bag
- Difficulty level: Easy
- Freshness level: Up to 7 days
Storing basil leaves in a plastic bag is the easiest way to preserve the freshness of the herb. For this method to work, you will need four things – basil leaves/basil plant, thin plastic, water, and a vase or any container big enough to hold the cut basil.
Pro tip: If you’re buying basil leaves from the store, cutting an inch off the ends of the stem will help it absorb water.
Fill the vase with a few inches of lukewarm water and then place the fresh basil 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.
Store basil in an area that is room temperature. You can put it on the kitchen counter or on a table, but never near a window sill or inside the refrigerator. If it’s too cold or hot, the basil leaves will wilt quickly.
You will also need to change the water out every two days and use the basil within a week before it goes bad.
2. Wrapped In A Paper Towel
- Difficulty level: Easy
- Freshness level: Up to 7 days
Now let’s say you don’t want to use the vase and plastic bag method, is there another way to store basil for a week? Well, there is! It is the paper towel method.
Pluck the basil from the stems, and then place it on the paper towel or a clean kitchen cloth. Then, gently roll the towel with the leaves in it. Grab a good-old zip lock and put the towel inside, and let it chill.
If you store basil this way, you can keep the leaves hydrated and prevent them from wilting instead of storing them unrolled and unprotected inside the refrigerator. Basil also lasts longer – up to a whole week! Consider pouring the leaves with a coat of olive oil to prolong its life up to 2 months.
3. Dry it out for years of preservation
- Difficulty level: Hardest
- Freshness level: 1-2 years
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. But, it’s going to be the most challenging method to store basil.
You’re going to need four things – an oven, a baking sheet, airtight containers, and some parchment paper.
Then, spread out the basil leaves on parchment paper on the baking sheet. Put your oven on the lowest temperature and place it 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 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!
Using a dehydrator can give you the highest quality of dried herbs (1).
Dehydrator drying is a fast and easy way to dry high quality herbs because temperature and air circulation can be controlled.
If you are using a dehydrator, place the basil on a tray and set the temp to 90 degrees. Dehydrators take a long time. The basil will be dried in 6-12 hours.
Pro tip: 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.
4. Freeze it
- Difficulty level: Easiest
- Freshness level: 4-6 months
Remember when we said there’s one method that allows you to store fresh basil for up to six months and still retain the basil flavor? Well, this is it.
To store basil using the freezing method requires, as you might have probably guessed, a freezer and freezer bags. And if you decide to freeze them in cubes, you will need an ice cube tray.
Freezing is the best way to store fresh basil. You just need to put the leaves in the freezer bag, and let your refrigerator do all the hard work!
If you prefer the easiest route, which is the freezer bag, you can take the whole leaves and stick them inside. Make sure they are completely dried and press all the air out of the bag before sealing it. You can use a paper towel
Another option is to freeze the basil in ice cube trays. This is just as easy stuffing the basil leaves inside the bag, there are just three extra steps.
You will need to break down the basil small enough to fit into the cubes on the tray. Then add water to the cubes and freeze. You can also pour olive oil on top so you can use the cubes straight from the freezer to the pan.
Here’s a handy video showing how to put basil in an ice cube tray:
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, the frozen basil 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.
Final Thoughts – Which Method Should You Choose?
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 be able to grab chunks of basil and throw them into meals? If so, the freezing method is the best way to store basil.
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!
Fresh basil will only last two days inside the refrigerator. If you want to store basil longer, the freezing method is the best choice. Not only it is super convenient and effortless to do, the leaves are ready to cook once you take them out from the freezer.
You can prevent frozen basil from turning black by blanching and freezing them in olive oil. To blanch herbs like basil, boil water and put the basil in. Keep them inside the pot for 1-3 minutes or until they turn bright green. Then, strain the basil and put them in an ice-water bath for 1 minute. Let it dry and drizzle olive oil before putting it in the freezer bag.
You shouldn’t use a refrigerator to keep the basil fresh because it quickly wilts the leaves. Plus, basil will absorb the smell of your fridge. Whenever storing herbs inside the refrigerator, use the paper towel-plastic method. It keeps it hydrated and protected from the funky smell of your fridge.
- Drying. Retrieved from: https://nchfp.uga.edu/how/dry/herbs.html
Alex lives in the sustainability capital of Australia (Byron Bay) where the local community thrives and strongly supports self-sufficient living and green tech entrepreneurship. He began Eco Peanut in 2014 with the mission to spread bite sized sustainability advice to the masses.