The Best Ways To Keep Basil Fresh

Those who love to incorporate fresh herbs into dishes regularly but do not or cannot keep potted herbs in their kitchen might know the difficulties of keeping store-bought herbs fresh. Even if you do grow your own herbs outside during warmer months, it can be frustrating to have such an abundance of herbs like basil during the summer but not the winter. But if you know how to prep or store basil so it keeps fresh, you can have plenty of the herb to work with all year long.

Basil is a particularly delicate herb that is sensitive to temperature and must be stored in a way that prevents it from getting too cold, according to Allrecipes. But the fragile leaves can also be easily bruised. That is why it should be stored somewhere where it will not be accidentally crushed by other foods or items.

With the right techniques and storage placement in your kitchen, basil can be kept fresh for a single day to a week or even a year. However, some methods do require more effort to preserve the fresh flavor of basil than others.

Container with water

According to Food52, the absolute best way to keep your basil fresh is to store it in a container with water almost like a bouquet of flowers. Using this method, you can keep a bunch of basil good for up to a week. However, depending on slight variations in the technique that you use, you might lose some leaves during that period.

The first and best method is to use a container with a cover that can be left partially open for slight airflow. Fill the container with water just high enough to cover the bottom inch or so of the stems. This will keep the basil freshest for the longest period of time without losing too many leaves. The second method is to place the basil in a vase or jar with water without a cover. This will allow the basil to stay fresh for a while also, but the plant will drop some of its leaves. This method is better than using a cover if you plan to use basil very often such as every day or every other day.

No matter the method you use, be sure to remove any leaves from the submerged part of the stems. You should also trim the stems before placing them in water for the best results.

Plastic bag in the fridge

Another technique you can use if you only need to keep basil fresh for a day or so is to place it in the fridge inside of a plastic bag. While you won't want to use this method to keep basil fresh for more than a day, it's great if you just need to stash it for a few hours or to keep it fresh until you can take the time to prepare it for longer storage. Any length of time longer than a day will result in leaves turning bad according to Food52.

To use this method, you can simply place the unwashed basil in the fridge inside of the original plastic bag you brought it home from the store in. You can also rinse the basil, wrap it in dry paper towels and stick it in a resealable bag if you prefer. Either way, the herb will be good as new for a short period of time.

Frozen as a paste

If you do not need or want to keep the basil leaves themselves fresh but instead just want to preserve the fresh flavor of the herb, you can also prepare the leaves and store them in the freezer. Using your freezer, you can enjoy the taste of fresh basil year-round. While many people might think of using basil to make pesto to be frozen into cubes, you can also simply make a basil paste that is frozen in the same way, according to Allrecipes.

To freeze basil as a paste, trim the stems off of the leaves. Next, wash the leaves and blanch them to preserve the vibrant color. Dry them well before placing them inside the food processor or even a blender. As you process or blend the basil leaves, slowly drizzle in just enough olive oil, or another kind of oil with a neutral flavor if you prefer, as a thin paste forms. Next, spoon the paste into an ice cube tray and freeze the paste before storing it in a resealable bag or container in the freezer.