Did you grow or buy basil from the grocery store, but now you don't know how to store the vegetables? Simple! Put it in water, like a bouquet of flowers, or put it in the fridge, like you would lettuce leaves. You can also scald (or "whiten") the plant to extend its shelf life. Finally, put it in a vase on the windowsill if you plan to use it in a recipe as soon as possible!
Method 1 of 4: Assembling a "bouquet" of basil
Step 1. Fill half of a vase or preserve jar with water
Any glass will do, as long as it has a lot of volume. You can use tap water, but many people prefer bottled water.
Do not use distilled water. It lacks the minerals that prolong the life of basil
Step 2. Cut 2.5 cm from the stem of the basil
You don't need to cut anything if you've just harvested the basil from the garden. If you bought it in the bag, trim the tips of the stems to extend the life of the branch.
Also remove the leaves from the part of the stem that will be submerged in water
Step 3. Place the basil in the pot and store it in a location that is around 18°C
Dip all the tips of the stalks and choose a place that is not directly under the sun, but reaches basic room temperature. A kitchen counter corner and a pantry shelf are two great options.
Do not store the vase in the refrigerator and nowhere below 10 °Celsius. Although low temperature is good for many other vegetables, basil leaves only stay fresh longer in other conditions
Step 4. Place a bag of vegetables on top of the basil bouquet (optional)
The bouquet will look ugly after it's covered, but at least the bag leaves the leaves fresh longer. Test it out with and without the material and find out which option you prefer.
- Do not place the bag too tightly against the vase. The air still needs to circulate freely.
- Use only those transparent bags of vegetables found in any bag.
Step 5. Change the water in the vase every one to two days
Change the water in the bouquet every other day whenever it becomes cloudy or if the level in the vase drops by 1.5 cm or more. If all goes well, the basil will stay bright green for up to seven days - ideal for a caprese salad!
- Wash basil leaves with clean, cold water before using.
- The leaves begin to wither in about five to eight days, but can still be used in tomato sauce and other recipes.
Method 2 of 4: Keeping Basil Leaves in the Refrigerator
Step 1. Pluck basil leaves and wash in cold water
Discard any wilted leaves or leaves that have dark spots. If you like, put the whole branch in a colander and rinse it all at once.
The technique here is very similar to the one used to store lettuce, but basil doesn't last as long in the fridge as other vegetables
Step 2. Dry the sheets carefully using paper towels
Place the basil leaves on top of a layer of paper towel and use another layer to dry by patting the top. Remove as much moisture as you can without deforming the plant.
You can also use a salad-dryer
Step 3. Wrap separate sheets in paper towels
Distribute the basil leaves on top of a layer of paper towels. Then roll the material slowly.
- Be careful not to exert too much force when rolling and ending up crumpling or tearing the sheets.
- This process helps to regulate the humidity of the basil, preventing the leaves from getting too dry or wet.
Step 4. Place the paper towels in a zip lock bag and store in the refrigerator
Place the basil paper towel in a large zip lock bag (4 L) and squeeze lightly to remove excess air. Close the zipper until it almost reaches the end, but leave it open (so oxygen still circulates in the fridge).
You can't keep basil in the fridge for long. Place the bag in a conspicuous spot so you don't forget
Step 5. Use the basil within 12 to 24 hours
Even in the fridge, basil leaves start to darken in a matter of hours. After a day, they start to wither and lose all use.
This method is just a permanent solution, for when you buy fresh basil from the bag in the morning and want to use it in the pizza you're going to bake at night (or other recipes)
Method 3 of 4: Freezing Fresh Basil Leaves
Step 1. Boil normal water in a pot and prepare a bowl of ice water at the same time
As the water begins to heat up in the flame over high heat, place two ice cube cubes in a large bowl and fill 75% of it with ice water.
This method of blanching (or blanching) and freezing the leaves is ideal if you only plan to use the basil after a few days, as if you have picked a lot of sprigs of the vegetable at once
Step 2. Blanch the separated and washed sheets for two seconds
As the water begins to boil, pluck the leaves from the basil branches and rinse with cold water. Then dip them all into the pan at once for two seconds with tongs.
Step 3. Transfer the leaves immediately to the container with ice water
Continue using tweezers in this transfer process.
- This process of scalding the leaves "retains" the basil's vibrant color, while dipping into ice water stops cooking before they wilt.
- You can skip the previous two steps, but basil won't last that long in the freezer. In this case, just wash the sheets and dry with a paper towel.
Step 4. Transfer the chilled sheets to a layer of paper towels to dry
After a minute or two, pick up the sheets with your fingers and place them all on top of a layer of paper towels. Dry them carefully by tapping more of the material.
You can even buy a salad-dryer or use other ways to dry your basil leaves
Step 5. Distribute the dried basil leaves in layers of parchment paper
Take a sheet of parchment paper that fits in a large zip lock bag, arrange the basil well spaced, put another sheet on top and repeat with more pieces of greenery until finished.
Be careful not to create so many layers that the tracing paper doesn't fit in the zip lock bag. In that case, start the process again and use another bag
Step 6. Place the parchment paper in a zip lock bag and store in the freezer for up to six months
Carefully transfer the layers to the bag and place your hand on top, without using force, to remove excess air. Close the zipper (all the way this time) and write down "basil" and the date on a pen. Finally, place everything in a safe place in the freezer so it doesn't get crushed.
- When you're ready to use the basil, unzip the bag, pull out some leaves, take out the air that has entered and close it again.
- Frozen scalded basil leaves have a vibrant color and strong flavor and are ideal for recipes and Italian sauce. Just don't take too long to use, they will soon wither.
- The leaves will start to darken after three to six months in the freezer. Throw them away when the stains spread.
Method 4 of 4: Planting Basil at Home
Step 1. Buy a basil seedling at any plant store
How about you grow basil at home, instead of buying the plant already cut in the bag? Just go to any plant store and look for seedlings ready for transplanting.
You also have the option of planting basil by seed in a vegetable garden (when the weather is favorable) or even indoors
Step 2. Place the vase with the seedling on the windowsill, where the sun shines
Basil needs six to eight hours of sunlight a day. If that's not possible where you live, at least choose the brightest window.
It is better to leave the basil in a place where the sun shines rather than on a window sill
Step 3. Water the basil pot frequently
Stick your finger 2.5 cm below the ground every day or two. If it comes out dry, pour water into the vase until it is wet (but not saturated).
The basil pot must always be moist. You'll get used to the right watering volume within a week
Step 4. Pluck the leaves just before use
This is the biggest advantage of growing basil at home: find the most colorful and healthy leaves and start right when you add it to your recipe.
- For example: take some of the most colorful leaves when making that drink that is your specialty!
- Pluck up and discard any withered or dark-spotted leaves.
Step 5. Change the basil seedling every one to two months (or whenever necessary)
Use the same pot and change only the plant itself. Just go back to the plant store and buy another seedling.