How to Store Basil So It Won’t Rot Too Quickly

Our advice for keeping this summery herb fresh and fragrant.

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Basil is an aromatic herb with smooth, green leaves, and a sweet, slightly peppery taste. Thanks to its versatility, it can be found in many cuisines, including Italian and Thai. We love incorporating it into dishes, including a Peach, Mozzarella, and Basil Salad, a Shrimp-and-Basil Stir-Fry, and, of course, pesto. The latter can then be used to complement pasta, paninis, and grilled veggies.

Like all soft, tender herbs, basil wilts quickly, and is best used fresh off the stem. But since not all of us are blessed with a thriving basil plant, we have some tips for keeping the cut stuff fresh and fragrant at home for as long as possible. Keep reading for tips on how to store basil.

How to Store Fresh Basil

There are two methods for storing fresh basil that work well: treating it like flowers in a vase with water, or wrapping it in paper towels and storing it in the fridge. With both methods, wait to wash the basil until just before using it, as excess moisture will cause it to rot more quickly. Stored in either of these ways, you can expect the basil to stay fresh for 1-2 weeks. 

For the first option, begin by trimming and discarding the ends of the basil stems. Then, store the basil in a vase or jar with a few inches of cool, clean water, and keep it out of the sunlight at room temperature. Change the water every few days.

For the second storage method, gently wrap the basil in a paper towel to absorb any moisture, place it in an airtight food storage container or a zipped plastic bag, and store it in your fridge, preferably in the crisper drawer.

How to Store Chopped Basil

Chopped basil will inevitably rot faster than whole basil, but the best way to store it is by placing it in an airtight container lined with a paper towel to absorb excess moisture. 

Alternatively, you can turn chopped basil into a dried herb by placing it in a single layer on a baking sheet and baking it in an oven at the lowest possible temperature until fully dry and crumbly (about 2 hours). Store the dried basil in a jar and use it all year round. 

Can You Freeze Basil?

Yes, technically, you can freeze basil, but it won’t be the same as before when thawed. The best way to freeze basil is by blitzing it with a bit of olive oil in a food processor or blender to make a green paste or sauce. Then, pour the mixture into an ice cube tray and pop it in the freezer.

When you’re ready to use that frozen basil, go ahead and add a cube to soup, or melt the frozen basil cubes in a hot pan to bring basil flavor to whatever you’re cooking.

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