Wondering how to store basil and keep it from wilting or turning black too quickly? I have you covered with the BEST, No-Fail Hack!

basil in a large glass with water sitting on a table

Fresh basil is among the widely used herbs in Mediterranean cooking, and almost everyone I know enjoys its aromatic, sweet, and somewhat minty flavor. It can be the one ingredient to add a pop of fresh flavor and color to your meal!

I use basil all summer long in things like panzanella, tomato basil soup, and grilled pizza!

We all know fresh basil is tricky to keep alive past a couple of days without the leaves wilting and turning dark on you. One of my go-to ways to quickly use and preserve fresh basil is homemade pesto! A jar of my pesto will last a good week in my fridge, and I make good use of it in pasta, pesto chicken, or to spread over a perfectly baked chilean sea bass.

Another one of my go-to hacks for how to keep basil fresh is to simply treat it like I do a flower bouquet by storing my trimmed basil in a jar or glass of water, covered loosely with a plastic bag. Works like a charm! I shared my hack earlier on Instagram, and so many people had questions, so I thought I would write out exactly how I store basil and keep it for a good 1 to 2 weeks on my kitchen counter.

How to Store Fresh Basil:

Time needed: 5 minutes.

  1. Trim the Basil Stems

    Grab a pair of scissors and snip a little bit off the end of the stems at a 45-degree angle just as you would a flower bouquet.

  2. Put the Basil in a Jar or Glass Vase with Water

    Fill a jar, a vase, or a glass half-way or so with water and put the basil bouquet (trimmed-stems down) in the water. Make sure no leaves are in the water or they will turn dark and slimy.

  3. Cover with a Plastic Bag

    Cover the leaves and the entire jar of basil loosely with a plastic bag.

  4. Store Basil Jar at Room Temperature

    Leave the covered jar of basil on your kitchen counter. I don’t recommend storing basil in the fridge as the leaves can easily turn dark, even if covered.

  5. Trim the Stems and Replace the Water Occasionally

    Don’t abandon your basil bouquet! Change the water every few days and give the stems a fresh little trim.

How long will fresh basil last after picking?

If you follow my method above and store fresh basil properly in a jar of water covered loosely with a plastic bag, it should last fresh for 1 to 2 weeks.

Can you freeze basil?

Yes! If you have way too much basil and you want to keep it for longer, freezing it is a great option. It will last in the freezer for months and you can use it year-round! There are many ways to freeze basil, and some involve cubes of chopped basil preserved in extra virgin olive oil, but here’s the very basic method for how to freeze basil leaves:

  • Blanch the basil. Throw the basil leaves in boiling water for 10 seconds, then quickly pull them out and put them a bowl of iced water. This will help preserve the bright green color (I always blanch my basil when I make pesto for the same reason!)
  • Wring out all the water. You can put the blanched basil in a salad spinner and give it a few spins, but I also like to wrap it in paper towels and give it a good squeeze to wring out all the water.
  • Freeze. First, pull the blanched leaves apart and arrange them on a cookie sheet, then freeze for 12 hours or so, then transfer the frozen leaves to freezer-safe bag (do this very quickly or the leaves will thaw). Close tightly and return to the freezer.

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