If you have a bunch of fresh basil and you’d like to keep it fresh a little longer, here’s how to preserve fresh basil on the countertop! No kidding!
For years I’ve been freezing fresh basil, to use in soups, stews, and pasta sauce all winter long. Then a few years ago I started to hear about a way of preserving basil when you wanted to use it fresh, but had more than you needed right then. I don’t know where I first heard that stems of basil in a cup or jar of water would stay good for days, but it may have been from Pam at Sidewalk Shoes (go see the fresh basil in water in her blog header.)
Recently I cut several buckets of basil and froze some, used some to make basil pesto, and kept out a generous handful of basil stalks for a little experiment. So, just how long do you think a jar of basil will stay good on the kitchen counter if you keep adding water?
Here’s the basil jar the first day, and the basil is brightly green and fragrant.
Day 3, and there is no noticeable difference in the color or smell of the basil.
After three more days go by, some leaves are barely starting to curl, and the overall plant looks just the tiniest bit wilted.
Two more days, and the leaves are a little more curled, but still fragrant and perfectly usable.
Finally, 10 entire days and although one leaf has fallen off, the basil is really essentially as good as when I put it in the jar. I filled the water about every other day, and didn’t allow myself to cut any leaves off so I could compare the photos. Of course, I doubt you’d ever keep a jar of fresh basil this long without snipping off most of the leaves to add to whatever you’re cooking, but I thought it was great fun to see that it lasted this long.
(Edit 9/15/2010 -It’s now nearly two weeks later, and the basil is mostly still perfectly fresh and usable! Most of the stems have roots, and the basil actually seems to be growing in the water!)
Do you have a garden where you’re growing basil? If so, I’d love to hear your own tricks for preserving it or what you like to make with your fresh basil.
You can see what else has been happening in my garden this year by using the label 2010 Garden Updates.