What’s the best way to store basil?

Basil is one of those herbs that shines best when fresh – the dried version offers only a pale ghost of the plant’s vibrant flavors. Growing your own is the best way to capture those essences, but not everyone can do that. Purchasing fresh basil is the next best option, but it doesn’t store well. Aside from using it the minute you buy it, what’s the best method for storing this fragile herb? Sarah Jampel of indexed blog Food52 experimented with several techniques to find what works

basil panna cotta

Jampel first gathered ideas from several chefs and food writers, including Alexandra Stafford and J. Kenji López-Alt. Some of the methods involve refrigeration while others rely on room temperature storage. A few people called for a “flower-bouquet” method of putting the herb in a container with water, either covered or uncovered. 

After observing the plants for several days, Jampel noticed that a few of the methods produced much better results than the others. Although it might seem counter-intuitive, refrigeration did not help the storage of the plant at all. Since basil grows best in a Mediterranean-style climate (warm and fairly dry), keeping it room temperature makes sense. Visit the Food52 site to learn all of the ins and outs of keeping basil fresh. While it will never last for weeks, you can certainly squeeze out a few extra days of freshness. 

Photo of Basil Parmesan panna cotta with cherries and tomatoes from Food52 by James Briscione

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  • lgroom  on  August 20, 2018

    I always have just made a bouquet of it and left it on the counter for a couple of days. I grow my own during the summer months.

  • wester  on  August 21, 2018

    I would like to read these, but being in Europe does not help. Is there any chance of food52 becoming available to Europeans again any time soon?

  • Jane  on  August 21, 2018

    wester – they say they are working on it. Not sure why it is taking so long.

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