Wondering about fresh basil how to store and keep it in longterm food reserves or just so that you have the versatile herb when you need it? Here’s how to store fresh basil long term or for everyday use while cooking!
Fresh Basil How To Store and Use
Basil is a popular herb that can be used in many different dishes — cooked into recipes or eaten fresh in salads or other dishes! And, if there are food shortages or are forced to eat from your pantry for a while (rice, beans, soups, etc.), fresh or dried basil can add robust flavor to any dish.
Whether you’re looking for how to store basil from grocery store, fresh cut basil from your garden, or even basil plants, we’ll cover tips on how to store or freeze fresh basil and how to store fresh cut basil leaves that will work for you!
How To Store Fresh Basil Long Term
How To Store Fresh Picked Basil
- In the refrigerator vegetable crisper
- Freezing the basil leaves
- Air drying basil
- Dehydrating basil leaves
- In a jar with water*
- Transplant the basil plant for indoor growth during the winter
- In a jar of olive oil
- Frozen in olive oil cubes
- Bring your basil container inside for cold months
Should I refrigerate fresh picked basil?
If you are going to use your fresh picked basil fairly quickly (within a few days), then it is OK to store cut fresh basil in the refrigerator. After a few days, your freshly picked basil may start to wilt and turn brown, so be sure to eat it before then! The best tip is to only pick your fresh basil when you are ready to use it or cook with it!
How to store fresh basil leaves in the fridge:
- Gently wash fresh basil leaves with cool water. (Do not cut basil leaves!)
- Place on paper towels and blot to dry.
- Place in a single layer on a clean paper towel. Fold paper towel over top of basil.
- Gently place basil in sealable bag. Store in refrigerator vegetable drawer for a few days to up to a week.
How long does basil stay fresh in the fridge?
How long basil stays fresh in the refrigerator will depend on how you are storing the basil. If you’re storing fresh basil leaves in resealable bag, it will last for up to a week. If you have a basil plant with roots and place it in a glass of water in the refrigerator, it will last much longer — a few weeks and more if you change the water regularly and prune away any brown basil leaves.
How To Store Fresh Basil Leaves In The Freezer
How to store fresh basil in the freezer:
- Pinch basil leaves off of the plant. (Leave whole and do not cut!)
- Gently wash the leaves to remove any dirt. Spread them on a paper towel and allow them to dry completely.
- Once they are dry, arrange the basil leaves on a piece of parchment paper in a single layer so that they are not touching. Freeze for 2-3 hours, or until the leaves are completely frozen.
- Then, place the leaves in a freezer bag and remove as much air as possible before sealing the bag. Be sure to label the bag with the content and date.
- Place flat in freezer. Basil will last for several months — as long as 6 months or more before they start losing flavor.
- To use, simply remove from freezer and chop to use in cooked dishes. (It will not have the same texture as fresh basil and is best used for cooking and not in fresh dishes like salads.)
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How To Store Fresh Basil With Roots
Basil should be stored properly to ensure its freshness and to make it last longer. If you have a basil plant that has roots intact, store basil is by keeping the roots intact and placing the plant in a jar or vase of water. Change the water every few days and trim the leaves as needed. Basil will last for several weeks when stored this way. This is an easy trick on how to keep basil alive in water!
How To Dry Basil Naturally
If you have a basil plant, you can harvest basil sprigs and air dry them so you can keep it for long term storage. Basil can be air dried by tying the stems of the bunch together and hanging it upside down in a dark, dry place. Make sure to check on the basil regularly and remove any leaves that have started to turn brown. Once the basil is completely dry, store it in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.
You can leave the basil leaves whole or crush them up and place them in a shaker jar (like the dried basil you get from the grocery store). For long term storage pantries, use a vacuum sealer to remove the air and preserve your dried herbs and spices longer and help them maintain flavor.
TIP: I buy the vacuum sealer plastic rolls like these instead of the individual bags. Not only is it cheaper in the long run, you can also cut the roll to the exact size you need (like small bags for dried herbs and then bigger bags for storing dried beans!).
How To Preserve Fresh Basil In Olive Oil
One way to store fresh basil is by preserving it in olive oil. To preserve basil in olive oil, start by cleaning the herbs and removing any dirt or debris and drying completely. Next, place whole basil leaves in a clean, dry jar. Fill the jar with olive oil, making sure that the basil is completely submerged. Seal the jar tightly and store it in a cool, dark place.
Basil preserved in olive oil will last for several months. When you’re ready to use it, simply remove the desired amount of basil from the jar and add it to your dish. Be sure to top off the olive oil in the jar after each use so that the basil stays submerged and is completely covered.
SIMPLE TIP: You can also freeze chopped basil in olive oil for cooking. Chop the basil and place in ice cube trays. Pour in olive oil to half the cube, making sure to cover the basil. Cover the ice cube tray with freezer wrap and place in resealable freezer bag. Freeze olive oil and basil until ready to use. To use, simply remove one cube at a time for cooking with pasta, sauces, and more!
How To Preserve Basil For The Winter
Once the weather starts to cool down, outdoor basil plants will begin to die off. If you want to enjoy fresh basil all winter long, you’ll need to take some steps to preserve it. If you want to harvest your basil, you can freeze it or dry it. If you have basil planted in your garden, you can try transplanting it into a pot and bringing it indoors for the winter. Place the pot in a sunny spot and water it regularly (basil likes moist soil, but doesn’t like water on it’s leaves).
You may need to provide some supplemental light with a grow light if your windows don’t get enough natural sunlight. (I like these clip-on grow lights that you can move around for small plants.)
Can you cook with fresh basil?
What can I do with fresh cut basil?
- Use basil as a pizza topping
- Eat with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and a drizzle of olive oil
- Toss with pasta
- Use in soups
- Add to salads
- Use it with grilled chicken
- Add it to tomato sauce
- Make pesto with it
- Add it to drinks
- Make basil tea
- Use it as a garnish
- Make flavored waters
- Use it with lasagna (you can’t go wrong with any Italian recipes with fresh basil!)
- Include it with a frittata or quiche
- Make bruschetta with it
- & SO MUCH MORE!
How To Keep Cut Basil From Turning Brown
Cutting basil or chopping basil will have a bruising effect and make the basil turn brown. When harvesting basil, pinch the basil leaf at the stem. Then, leave the basil leaves whole until you’re ready to eat or cook with them. Only chop them when you’re ready to use them and this will help prevent the browning that you sometimes see on chopped basil.
Let us know your fresh basil how to store and preserve tips!
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