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How to Store Fresh Basil?

Nadia Galinova
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Nadia Galinova
How to Store Fresh Basil?

Basil is a delicate herb, which tends to spoil quickly if not stored properly.

Fresh herbs of any kind are fleeting. We've all had the experience of opening the fridge only to find a once glorious pile of fresh herbs, which are now perished. Some of them perish faster than others. Basil is among the most perishable herbs. Its moist and delicate leaves perish so quickly, that everyone has wondered if it is worth buying at all.

However, the aroma of basil cannot be replaced. With a few culinary tricks, your fresh basil can stay fresh longer than you think. Here's how to do it:

1. Buy it in a pot

After all, the best way to keep any plant fresh is to keep it alive. Basil is no exception. It is easy to care for and easy to find in most major grocery stores. Just bring it home, find a sunny spot for it (indoors, basil is heat-loving and if you decide to plant it in your garden, the temperature should not be lower than 5-10°C) and keep it well watered. This way you will have fresh basil leaves for weeks, so that you don't have to cook without it.

2. Treat it like a bouquet of flowers

Don't have enough space or enough sun to start growing your own basil? No problem. You can still keep basil fresh, by treating it like a bunch of flowers, with one small exception: instead of admiring it in the center of the table, you'll cover it with a clear plastic bag.

Here's how you do it:

Step 1: Take the basil, clean it if it has yellow or injured leaves and cut a small part from the stems.

Step 2: Place the basil in a cup with a few inches of water and cover the loose part of the basil with a clear plastic bag (do not insert the bag into the cup, it still needs to breathe!). Manufactured plastic bags are great for this, since they are thin and light and won't crush the leaves.

Step 3: Next, move the fresh basil to a small corner and change the water every few days.

Now you might be wondering if putting it in the fridge will extend its life. NO! Basil hates the cold. Moderate temperatures are the key to its well-being.

3. Freezing

Freezing is also a way to preserve fresh basil. Before you throw it in the freezer, blanch it first. Blanching sounds complicated, but you just have to submerge the basil in boiling water briefly, then transfer it into ice water to stop the cooking process. Blanching preserves the bright green color of the basil. Without it, frozen basil turns into an ugly brownish-black condiment. Dry the blanched basil leaves before freezing them. You can freeze the leaves whole or chop them up and freeze them with a few tablespoons of water in an ice cube tray.

4. Dry it

The bags of dried basil have been sitting on store shelves for who knows how long. You don't need any special equipment to dry basil. Simply spread the basil leaves out on a piece of parchment paper and let them dry. The only trick here is to make sure the leaves are really, really dry. If there is even a hint of moisture, they will form mold.

Then store them in a tightly closed container. It will continue to serve you this way for a year or more. Another thing to note: Once dried, basil has a stronger aroma, than when it was fresh. If you are using a recipe with fresh basil, but use dried instead, reduce the dosage by one-third.

If you have fresh basil on hand, don't forget to add it to your Caprese Salad, Italian Pizza, or just make your own Basil Pesto.



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