- Coming Clean -

COMING CLEAN: Kitchen Tricks: Keep Basil Fresh Longer

How do you keep your basil fresh? Try the basil bouquet!

In my last post, I mentioned that I never quite mastered using the space in our old kitchen, and found it to be a barrier to cooking at home.

For me, I feel like I work better if I have a center island. We’re lucky to have one built-in at our new kitchen, but for a while in our old kitchen, we used a small table featuring a butcher-blockish top that we found at Goodwill. If you’re handy and have the space, you could also make one, either simple or more upscale like this one from the DIY Network.

Another barrier to cooking: Lost produce due to improper storage. I like to grocery shop and go fairly frequently, so I always figure that I’ll just buy smaller quantities more often. Of course, that doesn’t always work with busy schedules, so the longer I get food to last, the better (for my time, wallet, and worries over waste).


So on a whim, I popped this basil I bought at the farmers’ market into a previously used lemonade glass — a sort of basil bouquet. I had been keeping basil at room temperature, but was finding it would only last for three or four days before it’d start to turn brown (in the refrigerator, it would only last two to three days). Instead of 3–4 days, when I submerged the roots of my basil in water, it was still looking fresh on day 7. On day 8, it started to wilt, and today on day 9, it’s losing its luster (time for pesto!).

But can I make it last even longer next time?! Apparently, yes!

When I searched online, I found this helpful video from Rachael Ray. And I also found a blog re-posted through Pop Sugar that had more details (like making a few holes in the plastic bag before you cover the basil).

THEN I found an advice column from Martha Stewart saying to store your basil in the refrigerator, with the roots loosely wrapped in a damp paper towel. She even cites a study from the University of California, Davis, finding that “basil remained fresh for more than 10 days at 50 degrees and 95 percent relative humidity.”

This seems to be a hot topic! And clearly warrants another experiment in my kitchen: basil at room temperature covered with a plastic bag vs. refrigerated basil. Let the challenge begin!

So, how do you store your basil? Or do you scrap all this and just keep a basil plant in your kitchen or garden?

(For more on cooking with and storing fresh herbs, see Chef Cary Neff’s article for Experience Life here. He’s a fan of refrigeration, FYI.)

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