Basil is the absolute King of the herbs and that does mean that it deserves to be stored correctly so that you are able to enjoy it for longer than you do with other herbs. Thankfully there are a number of ways in which you are able to do this but prior to going into the various methods, we need to quickly mention why it is so important that you do actually store it correctly.
Why Do We Need to Preserve Basil?
To begin with, we have to just stress how amazing basil is as a herb and it is so versatile with the number of dishes that it can be used in even just as a garnish. Furthermore, the plant itself is capable of providing you with a vast number of leaves to then use in your recipes and this is especially the case when you grow the plants indoors where the growing season is extended thanks to the use of LED grow lights. In the outdoors, basil plants require anywhere between 10 and 16 hours of quality daylight each and every day for it to flourish so you can understand how it is then going to find it difficult to survive in the winter.
Thanks to the extended growing season it does mean that you will be left with an absolute abundance of leaves and considering they give you such an amazing flavor it is important that you preserve them rather than just allowing them to go to waste. Remember, you have put so much effort into growing the plant that it would be a horticultural crime for you to just throw it away because you were unable to use it in time.
Instead, the best approach is to go ahead and store basil and we will show you 17 different ways in which you can do this later on.
Also, you need to keep in mind that basil as a herb is rather delicate. It has a very high water content in the leaves and this just means that it is going to be more susceptible to being damaged or rotting if it is left too long without you trying to store it correctly. Any grower will be in a position to tell you that a successful basil plant will continue to throw up leaves as long as you tend to it and yet if you do not try to use it as much as you can then what is the point?
So, basil can provide you with a huge number of leaves over an extended period of time and yet you also have to take some care over it simply because of the ease with which the leaves can be damaged and ruined. However, as you are about to see, there are a number of rather inventive ways in which you can go ahead and store basil.
Tip 1: Place the basil in a polythene bag.
The first tip is simply to place the basil in a polythene bag and this is an inexpensive and yet effective way of helping to prolong the life of the basil that you have just picked.
This approach is impressive because the polythene is going to help to keep some moisture around the leaves but at the same time it allows ethylene to escape and that is the gas that is going to result in the basil rotting. All you need to do is to cut the basil at the stem, place it in the bag and then keep it on your kitchen counter until you are ready to use it. With this method, the basil should be able to survive for in the region of a week.
Tip 2: Place the basil in a vase of water.
The next tip is to place the fresh basil in some water. Now, some people may think that this is going to result in the leaves rotting as you would imagine that they would then be saturated but that is not the case. Instead, you have to consider copying how you put flowers in a vase as it is the exact same thing and we are not talking about you completely covering the basil in water. You may then also want to cover the top with a polythene bag although that is not always necessary. However, this is going to preserve the basil for around a week especially if you place it in your refrigerator.
Tip 3: Place the basil in a herb storage device.
Another option is to use a normal herb storage device. This is going to make sure that the basil is kept in the correct environment whereby gas is allowed to escape and the herb is also not able to dry out too quickly. Keeping that level of moisture is key if you are serious about extending the life of your freshly grown basil.
Tip 4: Freeze it by making pesto.
This is a delicious way of preserving basil as you can make it into a pesto as long as you add some olive oil, garlic and parmesan cheese. Pesto can be kept for weeks at a time especially if you place it in your refrigerator or, alternatively, it is possible to freeze it at which point it will be preserved for over a month.
Tip 5: Freeze the basil as it is.
Another option is to freeze the basil as it is and that just means cutting the leaves off, putting it in a polythene food bag and throwing it in the freezer. This is going to preserve the intensity of the flavor in the basil for at least a month and of course you can then simply add it to your recipes and it will thaw out as it is being cooked.
Tip 6: Freeze it using a milk carton.
This may be seen as being rather unconventional but you can also preserve basil for longer if you freeze it using a milk carton. If you thought that you had to use tupperware or a bag for freezing the herb then think again. Instead, any container that is clean is going to suffice and a milk carton, (the plastic kind) is going to be a fantastic option. The plastic can then be simply cut open and the basil removed whenever you are ready to use it.
Tip 7: Freeze pureed basil.
Another potential option is to freeze pureed basil and this is very easy to do. Simply puree it and mix with some olive oil and then pour the mixture into an ice cube tray. You are then able to remove the ice cubes as and when you need them and add them to your recipe.
Tip 8: Salting basil.
This might be one of those methods that you have never heard of but salting basil is going to really help to preserve it for some time. Add some salt to the bottom of the jar that you plan on using for storing your basil add the basil leaves to the jar and cover them with some salt and then add the lid and leave it in a cupboard. The salt will preserve the basil for months without altering the flavor.
Tip 9: Steeping basil in olive oil.
Something else that is worth trying is steeping your fresh basil in some olive oil and this can also be a brilliant way to preserve it for an extended period of time. Put the basil leaves in your container and add some salt so that the leaves are covered. You should then fill the container with olive oil and then cover the container and store away. The basil is going to be able to be used for several months without their quality being diminished in any way.
Tip 10: Basil vinegar.
Basil vinegar is yet another option that is available to you. You have to remember that vinegar is a wonderful preserver and it is going to help you to preserve basil for a number of months. After washing the leaves, go ahead and add them to a container before topping it up with vinegar and closing the lid.
Tip 11: Drying basil in a bunch.
Drying basil is another option and doing it in a bunch is going to be another great idea for you to try. Now, it is going to lose some of its flavor but at least you are able to use it in your recipes for some period of time. The most important thing is to make sure that the leaves are dried out as quickly as possible and you need to do this before the herb flowers. Tie the leaves in a bunch and hang them to dry but only after cleaning them and drying them on a paper towel.
Tip 12: Drying basil on screens.
If drying basil is an option that you would like to try then how about drying basil on screens? You might want to use a window screen to dry them on and the main advantage of this is that the holes in the screen allow more air to circulate around the leaves. This leads to them drying more evenly and quicker so you just have to lie them on the screen and allow nature to take its course.
Tip 13: Turning basil into pesto.
Making pesto is not only a great way of making sure that you can use the majority of your basil but it is also going to preserve it for a considerable length of time. This is not something that you need to be an expert at doing because it just takes some olive oil, some blended basil, and garlic. You might also want to add some cheese into the mix although that is entirely your choice. This is then going to be sitting in a jar or container and it will keep for several weeks if the container is airtight.
Tip 14: Basil vodka.
Time for something a bit different, basil vodka. Now, this may very well sound rather strange to a number of people but it is something that does preserve the basil. Vodka is a good preservative but this is actually something that you can go and drink and it will give the alcohol a slightly different taste to what you are used to. Add the basil leaves to a container before covering them in vodka and putting the lid on the container. You should then add it to your refrigerator for 24 hours to allow it to infuse and it will then last for months at a time, or until you finish drinking it.
Tip 15: Basil butter.
If you have never thought about basil butter as a potential option, then now is the time to give it a go. It really is a case of pureeing your basil and then mixing it in with butter and you are then able to even make it into cubes and place it in your freezer so that it is preserved for even longer. As a result, it will last for a number of months and can just be added to your cooking as and when required.
Tip 16: Basil cubes.
Basil cubes are very easy to do and there are several ways in which you can mix basil with a liquid of your choice and then place it in an ice cube tray. Some people will simply puree the basil and add it to water before pouring it into the cubes while others prefer to use oil instead. In actual fact, anything that can be infused with the basil is going to work and, of course, as it is frozen it is preserved for months at a time.
Tip 17: Preserving basil seeds.
The final tip is to consider preserving basil seeds so that you can then grow the same plants in the following year. To do this, allow a plant to flower and then when you see small black specks bursting out of the flower you know it is ready to take the seeds. Cut the flower stems and place it in a paper bag and leave it to dry. This is going to take a week or so to happen and you can then harvest the seeds. All you then have to do is to remove the seeds from the bag, put them in an airtight container and label them with the name and the date. They will then be ready to be used the following year.
So, there you have it, 17 different and amazing ways for you to preserve your basil and to then be able to enjoy it for longer than you ever thought possible. Now, you can obviously go ahead and use a number of different methods as it is going to serve a variety of purposes and as you are looking at trying to take full advantage of this amazing herb then why would you not give the different options a go?
The most important thing of all is that the majority of these tips will not only preserve the basil but will also help you to enjoy the flavor for longer. The only other point to mention is that the dried option is going to diminish the flavor slightly but that is