How to Store Fresh Basil in 3 Easy Steps

A bunch of fresh basil.

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Overview
  • Working Time: 5 - 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 - 10 minutes
  • Skill Level: Beginner

Basil is a delicious herb that can transform any dish. In addition to being tasty, the green herb contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that may help reduce stress and improve mental well-being, among many other health benefits.

In order to maximize its robust flavors, basil should ideally be eaten while it's fresh. But if that's not possible, here are two simple ways to store it in order to retain its attributes and extend its life.

What You'll Need

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch fresh basil
  • Olive oil

Tools

  • Jar
  • Colander
  • Cloth towel
  • Sharp knife

Instructions

Basil doesn’t do well in cold temperatures, so keep it out of the fridge. Refrigeration can cause basil leaves to darken and bruise. Left out of the fridge, fresh basil can last a few days before beginning to wilt.

Follow these steps to keep basil fragrant and delicious.

  1. Wait to Wash Fresh Basil

    Don'twash fresh basil until you are about to use it. Excess moisture will cause premature wilting.

    Gently rinse your basil in a colander with tap water to remove dirt and bacteria just before cooking with it.

  2. Keep Leaves Attached

    If you remove basil leaves from their stems, the leaves will wilt quickly. Store basil without removing the leaves to keep it fresh longer and resist the urge to chop it up into nice, bite-sized pieces until you’re ready to use it.

    Treehugger Tip

    If you do have to remove the leaves (like if you harvest basil from your own garden and don’t want to remove stems), dry them immediately. Do this by laying them out on a baking sheet and placing them in the oven at the lowest temperature possible until dry, 30 to 60 minutes. 


    You can use a spice grinder to grind the leaves and place them in an airtight glass spice container so that you can add pinches of basil to soups, sauces, and other dishes.

  3. Place Fresh Basil in a Jar

    Once you get home from the market or garden with a bunch of basil, snip the ends of the stems and place the bunch upright in a jar partially full of water. Treat it just like you would fresh-cut flowers. 

    Screw the jar’s lid on to help keep the basil fresh and store it on your counter. This method will keep basil fresh for up to five days.

Can You Freeze Fresh Basil?

Freezing fresh basil is a great way to store it for future uses when you have an abundance. Freezing it will change its texture, but the basil flavor will remain. 

First, rinse your basil under cool water and then dry it to get rid of any dirt. After the basil is clean, you have a couple of options for freezing.

Freeze Leaves

If you’d like to freeze the leaves whole, blanch them first to help retain their bright green color.

Pop them into a pot of boiling water for about 5 seconds. Remove the leaves and transfer them to a bowl of cold water for a minute to cool them down quickly and stop them from cooking.

After they’re cool, dry the leaves with a towel (or use a salad spinner if you have one) and place layers of basil leaves in a freezer bag.

Freeze Chopped Basil

Basil and olive oil paste in an ice cube tray.

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To freeze chopped basil, you’ll essentially want to create basil and olive oil ice cubes.

Coarsely chop your washed basil leaves with a food processor or a sharp knife. Mix in a drizzle of olive oil, which will prevent the basil from browning in the freezer. Make sure each piece of basil is coated in the oil for the best results.

Then, distribute the mixture into an ice cube tray and pop it in the freezer until the cubes are solid. At this point, you can remove the cubes from the tray and place them in a freezer-safe container to free up the trays. Then, you’ll be able to pop the cubes into soups and sauces as needed.

View Article Sources
  1. Singletary, Keith W. "Basil: A Brief Summary of Potential Health Benefits." Nutrition Today, vol. 53, no. 2, 2018, pp. 92-97., doi:10.1097/NT.0000000000000267