If you planted basil this year, it probably seemed like it took a month to establish, then all of a sudden you’re in pesto heaven. But how much pesto can one person really make, right?
Stop right there, because there’s no such thing as too much pesto—you can freeze it. But if you’re not ready to make any decisions, and you’re wondering how to store fresh-cut basil leaves, there are several options, from freezing it in olive oil, to refrigerating in herb keepers, to drying.
How to store fresh-cut basil leaves so you can enjoy garden herbs all year
A few basil plants, strategically planted in sunny garden plots (or sunny patio containers) will give you an abundance of wonderfully aromatic basil leaves. But as fall and winter approach, you need to figure out how to store fresh-cut basil leaves so they don’t go to waste.
Basil has a tendency to wilt and go bad quickly. So over the years, industrious gardeners have figured out a few ways to keep basil around longer.
- Make a basil bouquet. If you plan to use your basil within a week or so, you can trim the stems, just like you would with flowers. Place these in a tall glass of water on your counter. Before you get excited about a basil bouquet, though, there’s one more step: Cover the basil with a loose plastic bag. This creates a mini-greenhouse, allowing the basil to stay fresh and green. I’ve also used a device called an “Herb Keeper” that you can find on Amazon, which goes in the fridge and follows the same idea. I’ve kept herbs like basil alive for weeks in mine.
- Store the basil in a plastic bag. Alternatively, you can pick the basil leaves, lay them in a single file in a paper towel, and roll up the towel around them. Place the paper towel in a plastic bag and you can store it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
What about all those basil leaves you can’t use in the next two weeks? You still need to figure out how to store fresh-cut basil leaves for the long term. How does up to a year sound?
- Dry your basil in the oven. Rather than spending money at the grocery store on dried herbs, you can dry your own basil. Thoroughly dry the leaves and spread them out on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Put them in the oven on the lowest setting possible for two to four hours. Once they are dry, you can crumble them and use them whenever you need.
- Air-dry your basil. You can also air-dry your basil, but this can be a little tricky if conditions aren’t just right. Simply hang them upside-down in small bunches in a dark, dry spot with good air circulation. It may take a week or two for your basil to dry this way, but if you’re wondering how to store fresh-cut basil leaves in a “set it and forget it” way, this is it.
- Freeze your basil. If you’re like me, you probably already have a few pins on your Pinterest board about freezing herbs, and basil is a good candidate for this method, as long as you don’t plan to use it in a caprese salad or anything. Simply chop or use herb scissors to cut up your (washed) basil leaves, and add just a drop of olive oil to the batch so that they don’t go black when you freeze them. Then, add them to an ice cube tray. You can leave them in the tray, or bag them up once they’re frozen and use them in sauces and pasta dishes another time.
How do you store your fresh basil? Any tips you would add?