Basil harvests are always wonderfully plentiful, but figuring out how to store all of that deliciously scented, money-making herb harvest is an entirely different story! Knowing how to store your fresh basil is as easy as answering a few questions.
- Are you storing the basil cuttings for tonight’s meal?
- Will you need your basil for pesto one week from today?
- Are you storing the leaves for use outside of basil’s growing season?
Understanding your reasons for why you want to store your bunches of basil will help you make the best decision.
How can I keep fresh basil for 6 months?
The short answer is short-term storage. Short-term storage is for use within six months of your basil being cut and is wonderful for recipes and rituals that require fresh or non-dry basil. Short-term herb storage will require some sort of refrigeration or freezing to keep your herbs fresh.
2 ways to store fresh basil
- Help your basil bunches stay fresh for 1 week: Place basil cuttings in a glass jar filled with water. Place the jar in your refrigerator, like you would cut flowers, near the front. Storing the fresh cuttings in the front of the fridge prevents the tender leaves from becoming to cold and turning brown. Use within 1 week.
- Always have basil on hand for 6 months: If you have a lot of cuttings, you can make powerful flavor cubes! Simply make a paste by blending your fresh basil with a little water. Store the basil paste in an ice cube tray, and top each cube a little olive oil. This will seal in the flavor and keep freezer burn away. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the freezer. These frozen basil cubes will keep for 6 months.
Pros: Your basil will retain its fresh flavor.
Cons: There is a tendency for the cuttings to wilt, mold, or go bad before you have a chance to use them.
How can I make my basil harvest last until next year?
Another short answer: long-term storage; this type of storage is used for keeping your basil leaves for a full year.
2 ways to dry and preserve fresh basil leaves
- Naturally, air dry your basil bundles: Bunch some of your basil into a small bouquet. Place the bouquet in a paper bag. Hang the bag in a cool dry place, at room temperature, out of direct sunlight. The loosely covered bag will help collect the dried leaves as they fall off the stems, keep your basil clean, dry, and in a dark place. After, leaves are dry, separate from stems, and store in a jar with a tight lid out of direct sunlight. This method should keep for a year or longer and will keep your leaves from turning dark.
Do not use a plastic bag for this method.
- Quick dry your basil leaves: If you have a dehydrator, set it to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. While it heats up, separate the leaves from the stems. Spread the leaves loosely on the drying rack so air can circulate around all the leaves. This is a very quick way of drying your basil so it can keep its freshness. It should only take a few hours to dry as the leaves are thin. After, leaves are dry, store in a jar with a tight lid out of direct sunlight. This method should keep for a year or longer.
PS: you can also use a low-temperature oven and place your basil plant leaves on a baking sheet covered with paper towels.
Pros: My favorite advantage to long-term storage is you don’t necessarily need any special equipment. You can just hang your basil bouquet and dry it in a closet.
Cons: Dehydrating your fresh basil is that it changes the flavor slightly but you can store a lot of dehydrated basil in a very small space. Here are several ways you can store fresh basil cuttings for future use.
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