Last Updated on January 18, 2021 by cmoarz
Whether you buy it at a store or grow it in the container, basil will always be a wilted mess before you get a chance to use it. Why? Who knows. It is simply the way of the universe. There is no denying it and there is no getting around it, it just happens.
So what’s a guy to do, how do I stop my fresh basil from wilting and getting all crappy? well, I did the research and now I’m going to save you some time, money, and doing the research yourself. Learn how to store fresh basil at home with very little effort or time commitment.
We’ve all been there, we go to the store we buy our fresh herbs we put them in the fridge and maybe in a crisper if we are being extra fastidious. but suddenly, seemingly overnight there wilted.
Well, let’s be honest, not really *overnight*. I mean you start off wanting to eat them right away right? Good intentions and all. But then you put it off for that pizza or that mac and cheese or that lasagna.
You just keep putting it off and next thing you know three days have gone past and it’s turned to green-brown sludgy crap.
Well, as these things do, it turns out there’s a lot of ways to stop that from happening. It’ll save you money on your grocery bill, it’ll save you time and frustration miles, and overall you’ll be a happier healthier human being.
How To Store Fresh Basil: The Best Method
Obviously, the best way to store fresh basil is to never pick it at all. And when I say that I mean going out and either buying a basil plant or growing one at home.
As a container Gardener I can tell you right now it’s not hard to grow fresh basil. You can always have a rotating supply so you never run out, you don’t have to worry about the wilt, and there’s something about the taste of fresh-cut basil that just makes a whole world of difference. I think anyone who’s ever had it can and will attest to that.
Now, this is definitely the most time-saving busy friendly workaholic addicted method you can get. It’ll save you a lot of time and it’ll save you a lot of money. It’s also a lot of fun. But we all don’t have time for fun and gardening and all that crap right.
So obviously the next best thing is drum roll please…
By the way, this article is being dictated directly to text so I actually said this out loud to everyone’s amusement. I even did the whole thing with your hands, you know, that drumming bit. I’m sure my EDITOR will edit it out and not display it for the whole world to see.Heh -Editor
Storing (and ruining) Basil: The Fast Method
If your basil is about to turn zombie in the fridge or you just want to get it out of the way as fast as possible so it doesn’t start wilting, then this method is probably for you, at least if you’re in a hurry.
Before I get into it though I really have to interject, freezing basil is a terrible idea. Oh sure it’s still edible and maybe it even looks pretty good since you blanched it first. But in the famous, and presumably to be immortalized words of the great Gordon Ramsay,
IT’S F***** FROZENGordon Ramsey in basically every episode ever
Anyway, that’s my personal feelings on the matter. Don’t let it affect anything you do or decide not to do this. The method technicly works perfectly fine blah blah blah, Just because you’re technically correct doesn’t make you right!! So anyway, this is how you freeze basil.
The first thing you want to do is blanch Your basil. this will keep it a nice green fresh-looking color instead of turning it all terrible and brown and disgusting looking which happens if you freeze it without blanching it.
- Get a large enough pot to safely submerge a sieve or spaghetti strainer.
- Fill it with water and get it to a rolling boil.
- Have a bowl full of freezing cold water filled with ice.
- Once the boil has started, place your basil in your sieve and dunk it into the water, making sure to keep it fully submerged.
- Stir it around for 15 seconds.
- Remove the strainer from the pot and plunge it into the deathly cold water you prepared.
It’s the same reason you might dunk a hard-boiled egg into ice water if you want it to stop cooking so it stays runny and perfect.
After that dry it off with a paper towel making sure to get all the liquid and dampness. This will make sure no ice crystals form on top of your herbs and generally stop freezer burn from happening as quickly as it would if it was still damp.
Now I don’t freeze my basil, I never have I never will. But have been told, It is best that you cut up your basil and freeze it inside a block of water. For example, an ice cube tray, it could be a Ziploc baggie or even a mason jar. It doesn’t really matter. The method is sound and will prevent freezer burn. It will keep it fresher longer and it is the same method you would use on fish and such.
But at the end of the day it’s still FROZEN… Which is why the next method is a must do.
The Dry Preservation Method
If i was teaching someone who wanted to learn how to store fresh basil, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if i didn’t mention drying as an option.
If all you’ve ever had when it comes to dried basil is the stuff you get at the grocery store, Your about to get a reality check to how bad that stuff actually is.
It’s actually pretty amazing how quickly we forget what real food tastes like when we constantly buy stuff that’s been poked, prodded, and soaked in chemicals. But don’t let me lecture you, You will have to try it for yourself.
Here is how it’s done!
Without a dehydrator:
This method is best if you don’t have a dehydrator. I really do recommend you get one though. I think you will want to after you taste your fresh homemade basil.
I mean, that’s a lot of presumptions on my part, If I’m wrong please let me know :). And if it turns out I was correct in my assumption, Check out my Amazon affiliate link to my favorite dehydrator model. I earn a commission on this, Obviously. Here’s one without it. It’s your choice, My humble patron.
The method is fairly simple. Spread them out on a tray, leaving enough room between them for airflow.
Add them to a preheated 200f oven, or lower if you can. If your oven can’t go that low, don’t worry, just leave the door cracked open. If you don’t do this you will risk burning your herbs.
Leave them in for about 3-4 hours, or until they are completely dry. Let them cool down before you assess their dryness. Hot things always feel dryer than they appear.
If it’s not dry, just place it back in for another 40 minutes or so, and check again. It should be good to go by now.
At this point it should crumble up nice and easy, So do that, then store it in an airtight container.
Dried basil like this will last for a year, Longer with diminished taste. But don’t be fooled, and don’t over spice. This stuff is way more powerful when it’s dry than when it’s fresh.
With A Dehydrator
Hey, welcome back, I assume you purchased my recommended dehydrator? Well, Gee thanks. If not, Hey, no worries, I love you all the same. I’m not even going to correct the spelling errors in this sentence, this is how much I love you.
“Not if I have anything to say about it”t. Grammarly Chrome Plugin
All joking aside, this is my preferred way to dry herbs, Basil in particular. It’s very easy to do, so let me lay out the steps.
- If your dehydrator has a herb setting, use that. Otherwise set the temperature to 103 degrees Fahrenheit.
- All dehydrators are a bit different and the size of your basil also factors into time. In general, it could take between 12 and 24 hours before it’s dry enough.
- It’s ready when it’s dry and crispy and falls apart easily. Like that dead flower that’s been sitting in hour house for 6 months.
Bonus tip! Just like I said above, Let it cool down at least 30 minutes before assessing it’s dryness.
What, that’s it?! Yeah, it’s really that easy.
Now go enjoy your potent freshly dried basil. Impress your friends, your coworkers, Your grandmother. (Go visit grandma, She misses you).
How to store fresh cut basil for 2-3 days
If you are only looking to store your fresh basil for a couple of days, Than these are 2 methods you can use.
The refrigerator method
This one is probably the most common method of keeping your basil fresh for a few days. It’s very simple, do the following:
- Remove stems from the leaves
- Wash them like you would anything else
- Pat dry between 2 pieces of paper towel
Now you have 2 options on how you want to proceed. The oil method and the dry method.
For the oil method do the following:
- Cover paper towels in olive oil
- place the basil leaves evenly laid out across the entire width of the paper towel
- Roll up the paper towel with the leaves
- Place in a sealed Zip-Lock bag and place it in the fridge.
You might be able to squeeze out an addition 2-3 days with this method.
For the dry method do the following:
- Layout your freshly washed and dried basil on top of the dry paper towel
- Roll it up
- Place it inside a Zip-lock bag and seal it in the fridge.
This is the preferred method as it doesn’t add a gazillion calories to your healthy greens, and it’s also easier to deal with. And of course, It’s not messy.
The water method
If you trying to learn how to store fresh basil with roots still intact, this is a tried and true when you in a rush. Just grab your stemmed basil and plop it into a vase or glass filed with cool/room temperature water. Cover it up with plastic wrap or some other sort of plastic.
It will last a few days in the fridge this way, it’s convenient and bonus makes for a nice centerpiece in a pinch.
How about some related questions!
Can I freeze fresh basil without blanching?
Yes, you can, actually. While it’s a far more messy method, it should work just fine. It’s very simple, All you have to do is slather all your basil in a thick layer of olive oil, avocado oil, or any oil that stays liquid.
Place them all into a double seal zip-lock freezer bag gently on top of each other, and squish them flat.
Suck out as much air as you can with a straw. Stop if you’ve got a mouth full of oil, you’ve gone too far. Close the bag quickly before you go into the long laborious process of deciding whether you should spit or swallow… the oil.
Hint: There are 40 calories in 1 tsp(4.5g) of olive oil.
How do you freeze basil without turning it black?
Yes, with the above 2 related methods. But to recap if you came here on an anchor:
To freeze basil without it turning black, blanch for 15 seconds in boiling water, dunk in ice-cold water, chop it up into little bits, place it in an ice cube tray filled with olive oil or water, and add it to the freezer.