The key to keeping basil fresh and fragrant for days (even weeks) after purchasing or harvesting is to not store it in the refrigerator. Basil leaves quickly turnbasil black and slimy and lose their signature spicy sweet flavor when refrigerated, even after just a very short period of time. You want to keep them above 50F. A better way to store them is in a jar of water on your kitchen counter top.

The process is easy and very similar to how you would keep fresh cut flowers. Fill a vase or jar with 3 or 4 inches of water. Try to harvest longer stems if you pull it from a garden (rather than pinching off a few leaves). Immediately put it into the jar of water, making sure to add more water to the jar if the end of each stem is not submerged. If you bought it at a grocery store or natural food shop, remove the basil from its packaging and trim the ends of the basil’s stems, much like how you would do with fresh flowers. Place them into the jar of water (this increases the basil’s ability to take up water).

Place the jar in a cool place out of direct sunlight. Don’t worry if the basil droops at first; it will perk right up after about 12 hours. Change the water in the jar daily. When stored this way, basil will stay fresh for weeks. In fact, if you leave the stems in water, they will eventually root and you can replant them in a pot or out in the garden. How’s that for going green?

 

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