It is said, ‘Herbs are the friend of the physician and the pride of the cook.’ Records of Indian and World history suggest prominent usage of herbs in our medicinal and culinary heritage. Even today, herbs and herbal remedies form an important part of our day to day lives. One of the most well-known herbs in our plethora is Basil. Across cultures, the importance of basil has been emphasized time and again in different forms – be it medicine, cooking, religious rituals or community usage. In current times, it might not be possible for everyone to have a basil plant to give them fresh basil leaves every day. So, how do we enjoy the benefits of fresh basil while using basil leaves brought from the market? And it is only possible when you know how to store fresh basil.
Storage is Key – Tips to Store Fresh Basil
Apart from the way we grow and cook our food, the way we store it also plays a key role in ensuring that we make the most of the array of nutrients present in our raw ingredients. Keeping basil the right way allows us to enjoy it for a couple of days, or even weeks, depending on the storage method we use. Here are some tips on how to store fresh basil.
1. Don’t Nip it in the Bud
Instead of picking out leaves of the basil plant, you can try to buy the whole stems of the basil plant. Put the stems in water and use it like you would with an actual plant. Keep them in a place with moderate sunlight and ensure that you change the water every couple of days. Be sure to use the lower leaves first and prevent the leaves from submerging in the water.
If you want to store just the leaves, you may want to wash them and allow them to dry off completely before you pop them into the refrigerator in an airtight container or a herb keeper. Refrigerating may take off some of the flavours from the leaves, but you can still enjoy them considerably well for a couple of days.
3. Make a Pesto or Puree
This method will allow you to enjoy the benefits of a batch of basil for longer. Mix your favourite ingredients to make a tasty pesto or puree the basil leaves and fill the puree into an ice tray. You can store the pesto in the refrigerator for further use, or you can use the basil ice cubes in your curries and pastas.
4. Freeze or Dry
Basil freezes very well. So the only thing you have to do is put the leaves into a storage bag or freeze them individually on a tray. Basil freezes well and turns brittle on freezing, allowing you to use it directly into your dishes. Another way is to dry your basil. Use an oven, dehydrator, or microwave and dry the leaves. You can then crush or grind the dry leaves and store them in airtight containers for further use.
5. Store it in Oil
This method involves submerging the basil leaves in any oil of your choice and freezing them. After that, you can store them in Ziploc bags and use them for a couple of days.
Those were five ways to store our favourite fresh basil. Using any of the above methods comes down to personal choice, and experimenting with different techniques is the only way to understand what you enjoy the most!
Also Read: Basil is just one of the many herbs. Here are some more herbs and ways to use them.