Container Gardening: Storing Basil

Basil is among the most ubiquitous of kitchen herbs, used in a vast range of cuisines, beverages and even desserts. It’s also among the more productive of them, as home gardeners find the leaves sprout faster than they can use them. The following tutorial offers a few methods of storing basil for future use, including keeping the clippings fresh inside for a few days, freezing them or drying them. You can use the same technique to store similar herbs such as parsley, mint and rosemary (though we recommend leaving the rosemary on its springs rather than removing all those tiny needles). 

Storing Fresh Basil

The best way to store basil is to put the harvested sprigs in a glass of water like you would cut flowers. Cover at least the basil, but if possible cover the basil and glass with a plastic bag. It should stay fresh for around a week, especially if you change the water regularly. 

Another method is to place the basil leaves on a paper towelroll them up, and put the bundle in a plastic food storage bag to be kept in the refrigerator. 

Freezing Basil

If you are going to be using basil further in the future than a few days out, try freezing it. You can wash and dry basil leaves before placing them on a cookie sheet and putting them into the freezer. Then place the frozen leaves in a freezer bag and keep them in the freezer. 

You can also blanch the basil first. This supposedly helps the basil keep its green color and only requires you to boil some salt water. When the water comes to a boil, put the basil in for about 15 seconds or when the leaves wilt. Then take it out and immediately put it in a bowl of ice water to cool it down. From the bowl, you can dry the leaves thoroughly and freeze as noted above. 

Drying Basil

A third way to store your basil is to dry it out. Of course, in drier climates than Southwest Florida, you can set the basil leaves out to dry on a tray. That might not work well with the humidity here, but even if you do not have a dehydratorIt is still possible to dry basil. 

One interesting way is using the microwave. After washing the basil leaves, make sure they are dry and place them in between two paper towels. 

Then place them in the microwave for a minute. After the first minute, check the leaves and if they need further drying, set the microwave for another 30 seconds. Check again and repeat in 30second increments until the leaves are dry.