Whether you’re a newcomer to cooking or a seasoned chef, you need to know how to keep basil fresh. Today’s blog tells you everything you should know.
If you love cooking with herbs and spices, then you know how frustrating it can be when the fresh basil you picked up from the store — or grew yourself — goes bad.
In today's blog post, we'll be sharing our tips for keeping basil fresh until you're ready to cook with it again.
What Is Basil?
Basil is a popular herb that's often used in Mediterranean, Italian, and Thai cooking. It has a sweet, peppery flavor and can be used fresh or dried.
There are plenty of ways to use basil in your cooking, either as a garnish or as one of the main ingredients. For example, you could try making a homemade pesto with fresh basil, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese. You could also include it in a refreshing Baby Tomato & Mozzarella Salad or savory polenta dish. Hungry yet?
You can also use basil to create a mouthwatering Tomato, Nectarine, and Basil salad. That's one of our favorite creations featuring this fresh, aromatic herb.
5 Ways To Store Basil
There isn't one surefire way to keep basil fresh, but there are a few methods you can try. Here are some of our favorites:
Store Basil in a Jar of Water
This is the most common way to store fresh herbs and it works well for basil. You can also use this method for other herbs like cilantro and parsley.
Start by trimming the ends of the basil stems and then placing them in a jar or glass of water, just like you would with a bouquet of flowers.
You can then keep the jar on your countertop or in the fridge. Storing basil at room temperature will keep it alive for a few days longer than storing it in the fridge, but both methods will work.
Just be sure to change the water every few days and trim the stems again if necessary. Letting the stems grow too long will make it difficult for the plant to absorb water and could cause it to rot. This is also the case for other herbs, so make sure to keep an eye on those stems!
Wrap Basil in a Damp Paper Towel
If you want your basil to last a little longer, try wrapping the stems in a damp paper towel before storing them in the fridge.
This will help keep the basil hydrated and prevent it from drying out. As we mentioned earlier, basil can be stored at room temperature to make it last a little longer, but sometimes you just want to throw it in the fridge. If that's the case, a lightly wet paper towel will do the trick.
Just be sure to check the paper towel every few days to make sure it hasn't dried out. No worries if it has — just add some more water! For the sake of sustainability, we recommend using a reusable bamboo towel or cloth instead of a disposable one.
Place Basil in a Plastic Bag
If you're going to be storing your basil in the fridge for more than a few days, a plastic bag can help you keep it fresh.
Using a plastic bag can stop the basil from wilting, which is common when storing herbs in the fridge. Just like with the paper towel method, you'll want to keep an eye on the moisture level in the bag and add more water if necessary.
To keep your basil as fresh as possible for as long as possible, make sure to store it in the crisper drawer of your fridge. This is where produce like herbs, leafy greens, and vegetables are meant to be stored.
If you want to keep your basil fresh for months you can always freeze it. Freezing herbs isn't as common as refrigerating them but it's a fantastic way to keep them around for a while.
There are two ways to freeze basil: with or without oil. If you're planning on using the basil in a cooked dish, we recommend freezing it with oil. This will keep it from drying out and make it easier to add to your dish later on.
- Freeze Basil With Oil: Start by chopping the leaves and then mixing them with a little bit of olive oil. You can also use other types of oil, like avocado or coconut, but olive oil is a classic choice.
Once the leaves are coated in oil, transfer them to an airtight container or freezer bag and place them in the freezer.
- Freeze Basil Without Oil: Start by chopping the leaves and then transferring them to an airtight container or freezer bag. The key here is to make sure there is as little air in the bag as possible.
You can do this by squishing all the air out of the bag before sealing it, or by using a vacuum sealer. Once the bag is sealed, place it in the freezer.
If you're not going to use your basil right away, you can dry it and keep it in a jar for future use. Drying your own herbs can save you tons of cash in the long run and it's really easy to do!
If you're like us, you probably hate seeing ingredients go to waste. That's why we recommend drying your excess basil if you don't anticipate cooking with it anytime soon. You'll be reducing waste and saving yourself a trip to the grocery store for more basil.
The best way to dry basil is by using a food dehydrator, but you can also air-dry it if you don't have one.
To Air-Dry Basil: Start by washing the leaves and then letting them dry completely. Once they're dry, place them on a clean surface like a cutting board or plate.
Then, simply let them sit out at room temperature until they're completely dried out. This could take a few days, so be patient! Once the leaves are dry, you can store them in a glass jar or container with a tight-fitting lid.
You can keep dried basil for up to six months, but we recommend using it within three months for the best flavor.
How Can You Tell if Basil Isn't Good Anymore?
No matter how you choose to store your basil, it won't last forever. Here are a few signs that your basil has gone bad and needs to be thrown out:
- The leaves are wilted or discolored.
- There is mold growing on the leaves.
- The leaves have a slimy texture.
- The leaves have an off-putting odor.
If you notice any of these signs it's time to say goodbye to your basil. While it's always disappointing to see food go to waste, it's better to be safe than sorry when it comes to mold and bacteria.
When in doubt, throw it out.
Why Should You Buy Fresh Basil Instead of Dried Basil?
If you're still on the fence about whether to buy fresh or dried basil, we recommend opting for the fresh stuff. Dried herbs are more potent than fresh, so you'll need to use less of them to get the same flavor.
While this may seem like a good thing, it can actually make it difficult to get the flavor right in a dish. It's easy to add too much dried basil and end up with a dish that tastes like soap.
With fresh basil, on the other hand, it's much easier to control the flavor. You can start with a small amount and then add more if you need to.
Plus, there's nothing quite like the taste of fresh basil. If you're looking for flavor, we recommend going with fresh.