Growing a basil plant indoors can be a handy skill to have. There’s nothing better than having fresh basil readily available to enhance the flavors of your favorite pasta dishes and salads. Did you know you can actually keep those grocery store plants alive all year long with this kitchen hack?
Fresh basil is sold in the grocery as a plant in a little pot with soil. I’ve tried to keep it alive by watering it, which will work for a few days and then it gets droopy and dies so that I only get the leaves that were on the plant when I brought it home. Then it’s back to the grocery for another plant.
Even if you don’t have a green thumb, you can actually keep these little plants alive and they will produce more basil leaves. If you have a sunny spot in your house, you will get even more leaves.
Instead of watering the plant, fill a disposable container with about an inch or so of water and place the plastic pot that the basil plant came in, inside the container of water. The plastic pot has holes in the bottom and the plant will draw up the amount of water it needs.
All you have to do is keep about an inch of water in the disposable container and the plant is smart enough to take the water it needs to grow. It will start to produce new leaves and you won’t have to buy a fresh plant every time you want to make shrimp carbonara or strawberry basil crostini.
If you’re like me, and don’t have a sunny place indoors to grow herbs, you can still keep this plant alive for a few months until you can plant it outside. The sunnier the location, the more leaves it will produce.`
What is basil best used for?
Basil is an herb that most people enjoy for its fresh, sweet, and distinct flavor. It’s pungent and strong. Some might even say it’s mildly spicy! It’s a staple sprinkled on top of spaghetti and pizza and is good on almost any pasta dish.
Basil can be bought fresh or dried. Both are excellent to keep handy in your kitchen. And no matter where you live, basil can grow in a warm, sunny spot in your house, so it’s easy to have fresh on hand whenever you want it.
Of course, fresh basil is always available at the grocery growing in a pot of soil, usually in the fresh produce section.
How to Buy Fresh Basil
You can buy basil dried in the spice aisle, but if you’re looking for fresh basil, you’ll need to head to the produce section.
You’ll find basil in little pots of dirt. Look for a plant with bright green, healthy-looking leaves with no brown spots.
Why You’ll Love This Kitchen Hack for Keeping Basil Alive
- One little basil plant can continue to produce leaves so you don’t have to buy another plant.
- If it’s warm outside, you can plant the basil in a pot and it will produce even more leaves, then bring it back inside when it gets cold.
- Save money, you won’t waste money buying a new plant every time you have a recipe that calls for fresh basil.
How to Keep Basil Fresh
Step 1: Prepare the container.
Add the pot containing the basil plant inside a plastic container.
Step 2: Add the water
Pour about 1 inch of water in the bottom of the plastic container.
Step 3: Water occasionally
Every few days add water to the plastic container, not to the plant itself.
Can I freeze fresh basil?
Yes! You can freeze basil leaves. Here’s how:
- Prepare an Ice Cube Tray: Grab an ice cube tray and make sure it’s empty and clean.
- Place Basil Leaves in the Tray: You can keep the basil whole or tear or chop the basil leaves into smaller pieces. Place a few pieces of your basil leaves into each ice cube tray compartment. Don’t pack them too tightly to allow room for expansion.
- Add Water: Fill the ice cube tray with water, pouring it gently over the basil leaves. Fill each compartment to the top, ensuring the leaves are completely submerged. I recommend pouring out of a measuring cup instead of using the tap so you don’t damage the leaves or overfill the compartments.
- Tap Out Air Bubbles: Tap the ice cube tray gently on the countertop a few times to release any trapped air bubbles. This helps prevent oxidation and maintains the quality of the basil leaves.
- Freeze the Basil Leaves: Place the ice cube tray in the freezer and let it freeze until solid. This typically takes about 4-6 hours, but it may vary depending on your freezer’s temperature.
- Remove the Basil Ice Cubes: Once the basil ice cubes are completely frozen, remove the ice cube tray from the freezer. Gently twist or flex the tray to release the cubes. If they are stuck and difficult to remove, you can briefly run the bottom of the tray under warm water to loosen them.
- Place in a Freezer Bag or Container: Collect the basil ice cubes and transfer them into a freezer-safe bag or container. Seal tightly, and try to remove any excess air.
- Label: Label the bag or container with the current date, as well as the contents. This will help you keep track of the freezing date and ensure you use them within a reasonable timeframe. They will last in the freezer for 2-3 months.
- Freeze: Place the bag or container in the freezer.
Now you have basil leaves frozen in ice cubes, ready to be used whenever needed. You can simply pop out a basil ice cube or two whenever a recipe calls for fresh basil. The ice cubes can be added directly to cooked dishes like soups, stews, or sauces, and the basil will infuse into the dish as the ice melts.
Keep in mind, frozen basil leaves are best used in cooked or blended dishes because their texture won’t be the same as fresh. They will also turn black using this method.
How to freeze fresh basil without them turning black
Instead of freezing the leaves in water, add basil leaves to a food processor with a little olive oil and then freeze in a ziplock or an ice cube tray. When you’re ready to use, you can pop the entire cube into your dish for fresh basil flavor and green leaves. You can also make it into pesto and freeze the pesto the same way.
Fresh Basil FAQs
Can I store basil in the refrigerator?
No, unlike other herbs like parsley, basil is very sensitive to the cold and the leaves will turn black if refrigerated. To store cut basil, add it to a glass of water and store on the counter.
How to pick fresh basil leaves?
If you want to stimulate growth and make your plant bushy, then you need to trim it. You should not just pluck off some leaves, but trim it to just above a set of side shoots. This will cause that shoot to produce more leaves. You also want to pinch off the flowers as soon as the buds appear.
Recipes that use Fresh Basil
Strawberry Appetizers with Pretzel Crackers
Heirloom Tomato Tart
Shrimp Carbonara with Grilled Corn
Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta with Artichoke Hearts
Peach and Tomato Salad
Kitchen Hack 10 (How to Keep a Basil Plant Alive)
- Disposable container or glass bowl
- Take a disposable container or a glass jar and clean it well. Then, place 1-inch of water in the bottom.
- Set the entire pot containing the basil plant in the container with water.
- Add water to the container, not the pot every few days.
Barbara’s Tips + Notes
- When removing leaves, cut them off right above a shoot split so that more leaves will grow.
- Try to keep it in a sunny place for more leaf growth.