Basil is an aromatic herb popular in Asian and Mediterranean cuisines. The fresh and subtle flavor carries hints of mint and pepper that can add a refreshing twist to any summer dish. The delicate nature of basil makes it an excellent fit for cooking, but can easily wilt if not taken care of properly.
Before storing fresh basil, it’s important to decide how you will incorporate the herb into your dishes. Basil can be used fresh in Caprese salad, processed into pesto, or made into a simple syrup for basil gimlets. When you find yourself with too much basil, knowing how to properly store the herb will come in handy.
This guide will teach you everything you need to know about storing fresh basil.
What You Will Need
- Glass jar
- Plastic bag
Store at Room Temperature
Basil can be treated similarly to fresh flowers and kept in a glass jar with water at room temperature. When kept fresh, basil makes a wonderful addition to salad or poultry dishes. Here are four easy steps you can take to store basil at room temperature:
Step 1: Trim Basil Stems
Take a pair of sharp scissors and trim a short piece of the stem off each piece of basil. The cut should be made at a 45-degree angle to increase the surface area water can be absorbed.
Step 2: Place Trimmed Basil Stems Into a Jar of Water
Fill a glass jar halfway with fresh water and place your newly trimmed basil stems neatly inside. Ensure no leaves fall below the waterline as this will ruin your fresh basil leaves and spoil the freshness of the water.
Step 3: Cover Basil Leaves with a Plastic Bag
Place a clear bag gently over the top of the basil leaves and around the glass jar. Freshly cut herbs can easily dry out, and the plastic bag will help retain moisture. Soft leafy herbs will last longer if kept at room temperature.
Step 4: Replace Water and Trim Stems Every Two Days
To keep your basil staying fresh, it’s important to replace the water and trim stems every two days. If these steps are followed carefully your basil will stay fresh much longer!
Store in a Freezer
If you’re running out of ways to use your fresh basil, it’s time to turn to the freezer. Fresh basil can be frozen un-blanched or blanched to preserve its color. Blanching your basil prior to freezing is the only way to ensure your leaves will keep their bright green color.
If you wish to freeze the basil leaves whole and preserve their original color, you will first need to blanch the leaves. To blanch the leaves place them in boiling water for a short period of time, and then transfer them to ice-cold water. Once done, dry the leaves with a salad spinner or clean towel. When dry, quickly transfer the whole leaves onto a baking sheet (with space between each leaf) and place them into the freezer. When the leaves are fully frozen you can place them into a plastic bag or container to later use in pesto, curry, or soup.
Keep in the Fridge as a Simple Syrup
Basil can be made into a simple syrup for alcoholic or non-alcoholic cocktails and beverages. The sweetness of the simple syrup will preserve the basil anywhere from one to two weeks in the refrigerator. Although this isn’t a method for keeping your basil leaves whole, it’s an excellent way to make use of additional leaves and add a dash of freshness to your beverages.
To make an easy basil simple syrup, you will first need to add water and sugar to a saucepan and stir continuously on medium heat. Once the syrup begins to bubble, remove from heat and add the basil leaves. Allow the basil leaves to infuse into the syrup for 15-20 minutes before straining into a clear glass jar. This simple syrup should be kept in the refrigerator and can be added to cocktails, iced tea, or lemonade.
Storing basil is very simple, and with these three methods, you can maximize the lifespan of your leaves and use basil in new and exciting ways!
Now that you know everything you need to know on storing fresh basil, make sure to share these helpful tips with friends, and comment any thoughts or questions below.