Storing fresh basil can be tricky – if you’re like me, you’ve probably experienced the disappointment of buying a beautiful bunch of basil from a grocery store or a supermarket only to have it wilt and lose its color a few days later.
But there’s no need to despair! With a little care, you can keep your basil usable for more than just a few days.
Here’s how to store basil from the grocery store and lock in its minty, peppery taste and freshness.
Tips For Purchasing Basil From Grocery Store
Before anything, you will have to ensure that the basil you buy is still fresh. Here are the things to check when buying basil from a grocery store or a supermarket.
- The stem and leaves should be bright green in color.
- The leaves should be fragrant; the stronger the smell, the fresher the plant.
- Look for firm and upright stems.
- When breaking, they should be snappy rather than soft.
- Don’t buy leaves that have yellow or black stains.
- Also, don’t buy basil leaves that are wilted.
Note: The farmer’s market is the best place to get fresh basil. If that’s not possible, get a supermarket basil that is planted in a little pot, still in its soil.
1. How To Store Fresh Basil At Room Temperature?
Using a mason jar to store your basil at room temperature will keep the basil fresh for up to four days. Here is how to do it.
Things You Need
- Mason jar (or any type of canning jar)
- Sharp knife or scissors
Check the basil and remove any damaged or discolored leaves.
Cut about half an inch off the bottom of the stems with a sharp knife or scissors at a slight angle.
Fill the mason jar with water and place the stems upright with the cut part immersed in the water.
Use a plastic or ziplock bag to loosely cover the top of the basil, leaving adequate breathing space for the plant.
Finally, store the basil in the jar at room temperature, where it can stay fresh for up to four to five days.
If you notice that the water gets cloudy, change it to fresh water.
Note: You can also put the jar in the fridge (not in the freezer!), where it can last an extra two to three days.
Note: If you purchased fresh basil leaves from the shop that were already removed from the stems, remove them from the plastic packaging first. Then wrap them loosely between two layers of kitchen paper or put them in the paper bag and store them in the fridge.
2. How To Store Fresh Basil In The Freezer?
When it comes to preserving herbs, freezing is one of the best methods to keep them fresh for a very long time. This is especially true for basil, which can retain its flavor and color for several months when frozen. However, it should be noted that freezing will make the herb less minty and peppery.
Blanching The Basil Before Freezing
If you’re looking to keep your basil green when freezing it, the best method is blanching it first. Blanching is simply submerging the basil in boiling water for 30 seconds and then transferring it to an ice bath. This process will help to preserve the green color in your basil when it’s frozen.
Blanching your basil will also stop enzyme actions that cause it to wilt. It can also kill off the bacteria and germs on the herb’s surface.
Things You Need
- Slotted spoon
- Paper towel
- Freezing sheet
- Freezing bags or containers
Steps to Follow
Add water to the pot and bring it to a boil.
Pluck out all the basil leaves from the stem. (Remove any damaged or discolored leaves).
Put the leaves in the boiling water and let them sit there for about 30 seconds.
Using the slotted spoon, take the leaves out from the pot and place them immediately in an ice-water bath for about 15-20 seconds.
After that, place them on paper towels and cover them with another layer of paper towel. Press down on paper towels to soak up as much water as possible.
Arrange the leaves in the freezing sheet and flash freeze for about one hour.
Transfer the leaves to a freezer bag. For easy access later, divide them into small, usable portions.
Freeze for up to 3 months.
Can You Freeze Fresh Basil Without Blanching it First?
Yes, you can do so, but if you were to freeze fresh basil without blanching it first, the quality of the basil would decrease faster. This is because the freezing process would cause the basil leaves to discolor and become black. Additionally, the flavor of the basil would become muted and less pronounced.
In order to maintain the quality of the basil, I recommend blanching it before freezing.
Freezing Basil In Ice Cube Trays
Basil leaves can also be frozen after they have been ground up. This is a convenient way to store them for later use. Also, when mixing it with olive oil before freezing will help to preserve its flavor and prevent them from browning and freezer burn.
To grind the leaves, you can use a food processor or a coffee grinder.
Here is how you can do it:
- Food processor
- Olive oil
- Ice cube trays
Steps to Follow
Remove any damaged or discolored leaves and grind the leaves in a food processor until slightly coarse. Don’t over-grind them since they can get too soft.
Lightly coat the ground leaves with no more than a drizzle of fresh olive oil.
Scoop the oil-basil mixture into the ice cube trays and freeze.
Once frozen, transfer everything into a freezer bag or an airtight container.
How Long Can You Store Basil Leaves in a Freezer?
In general, you can store basil leaves in a freezer for up to six months. However, the quality of the leaves will decrease over time. If you plan to use the leaves for culinary purposes, it is best to use them within the first three months of storage. After that, the leaves will begin to lose their flavor and texture.
3. How To Dry Fresh Basil?
Drying basil leaves is a great way to preserve them for later use. When you dry basil leaves, they can last easily for a year or even more. This is a great way to save money and have fresh basil available when you need it.
There are two main methods for drying basil leaves, in an oven and air drying.
Drying Basil Leaves In an Oven
Oven drying works great for herbs like mint, sage, thyme, and rosemary, as well as for basil. You can use both a traditional or a microwave oven.
Things You Need
- Baking sheet
- Glass jar with a lid
Steps to Follow
Preheat the oven to its lowest setting. The temperature should stay under 180°F (82°C).
Remove any damaged or discolored basil leaves.
Spread the basil leaves on the baking sheet in a single layer. They shouldn’t overlap.
Place the herb in the oven on the middle rack. Leave the oven door ajar so that the oven does not get too hot and excess moisture can escape.
Start drying the leaves, checking them every 15 minutes. The drying process can take between two to four hours. Rotate the baking sheets around if the herbs dry unevenly.
When the basil leaves crumble easily between your fingers, they’re dry. Let them cool and crush the dried basil and store it in a glass jar or a container.
Air Drying Basil
Air-drying is a cheap and convenient way to preserve herbs, including basil. It does, however, take patience and time.
The process is simple: tie herbs together in small bundles and suspend them upside down in a cool, dry place with good air circulation. Alternatively, you can also spread them out over racks. When the leaves are crisp, remove them from the stems, crumble them, and store them in an airtight container.
I don’t recommend sun drying because the basil can lose color and flavor.
With this method, you can enjoy your fresh herbs all year long.
Things You Need
- Basil leaves on stems
- Some rope or string
- Dark warm, and dry room
- Rubber band
- Glass jar with a lid for storage
Steps to Follow
Line up a rope high up in a well-ventilated room, away from direct sunlight, as you would for drying clothes.
Using a rubber band or string, tie the herbs into small bundles. Only use 3-4 stems of basil for each bundle so they would dry faster and evenly and won’t get moldy.
Tie the bundles to the rope and leave them hanging upside down, allowing the basil leaves to hang and dry.
Dry for about 15-20 days till you can easily crumble the leaves, then crush the leaves and store them in the glass jar with a lid.
Note: Keep checking on your herbs once in a while, making sure they are drying well and are not getting moldy. Remove any damaged or discolored leaves if you see them.
How To Dry Basil In The Microwave?
If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to dry basil, the microwave is a great option. All you need is a paper towel and a plate.
Simply place the basil leaves on the paper towel and microwave on high for 60 seconds. Check the leaves, and if they’re not dry, microwave in 30-second increments until they’re crisp and dry.
Once they’re dry, store them in an airtight container, and they’ll last for months.
Check out the video below on how to dry herbs in the microwave and what are some of the benefits of drying herbs this way.
How Long Do Dried Basil Leaves Last?
Dried basil leaves can last for 1-2 years if they are dried and stored properly. The leaves should be stored in an airtight jar or container in a cool, dry place away from sunlight.
4. Make Some Pesto
If you’re looking for a way to use up all that basil you have, making pesto is a great option. Pesto is a sauce made from crushed basil leaves, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic, and Parmesan cheese. Pesto is traditionally used as a pasta sauce but can also be used as a spread for sandwiches or a dipping sauce for bread.
Homemade pesto can be stored for up to 10 days in the fridge or up to six months in the freezer.
Read Also: 3 Easy Ways To Dry Herbs Without A Dehydrator (No Flavor Loss).
If you’re one of those people who can’t get enough basil in your life, you’re probably always looking for ways to make it last longer. Fresh basil is notoriously delicate and doesn’t have a very long shelf life, but by using some simple storage methods, you can make it last much longer.
There are a few methods you can use to store basil from grocery store and keep it fresh for as long as possible.
Basil can be stored in a vase of water, like cut flowers, or wrapped in a damp paper towel and placed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. You can also freeze basil, either by blanching and flash freezing it and storing it in a freezer-safe container or by oven or air drying.