Basil is notoriously difficult to keep fresh, especially sweet or Genoa basil, which is used in many Italian cuisines and pesto. It wilts and turns black in a startlingly short time. However, once the stems have been harvested, there are ways to keep the leaves fresh. Of course, the fresher the basil you purchase, the longer it will last.
There are a couple of ways to store basil. While freezing is the best option, drying basil is also good. A bag made of plastic with holes can also be used to store basil. This is a very convenient way to keep basil fresh for a long time. However, you’ll have to adjust if you’re looking for a no-blanch method.
A member of the mint family, basil is an essential ingredient in Italian cuisine and Thai, Indonesian, and Vietnamese dishes. It’s a key ingredient in traditional pesto and a preferred flavoring in pasta sauces with tomato as the base. Basil is a perennial plant that grows year after year. Its standard color is green, and it has a flavor that is both spicy and sweet. The most frequently used part of the basil plant in cooking are the leaves, which are broad, delicate, smooth, and have a pattern of veins. It is a common addition to kitchen gardens and a straightforward herb to cultivate at home.
Most Prevalent Varieties
There are many different types, including:
Basil is known for its use in Italian cuisine, and the most extensively grown and popular kind is sweet basil. It has a licorice-clove flavor and is frequently offered dried in supermarkets.
Bush or Greek basil can be used in place of sweet basil because of its potent scent and mild flavor. It thrives nicely in pots and develops into a compact bush with little leaves.
Thai basil: Frequently used in Thai and Southeast Asian cuisine, it has an anise-licorice flavor.
Mexican-born cinnamon basil. It has a flavor and aroma similar to cinnamon. Beans or spicily stir-fried veggies frequently accompany them
Large, wavy, velvety leaves with a licorice-like flavor make up lettuce basil. It functions admirably in salads or when combined with tomatoes and olive oil.
How to Store Basil
The Best Approach
The best way to keep basil is to arrange the bunch in a glass or jar of water, similar to how you would arrange flowers.
Place everything in a refrigerator. Trim the ends of the bunch, place it in a glass, jar, or vase filled with water that can fit in the refrigerator, and wrap the basil leaves or the entire bunch in a plastic bag. Basil maintained in that manner will keep healthy and vibrant for up to a week.
Is it a little annoying? Sure. Not at all convenient? Good point. Occupies a lot of refrigerator space? Nobody could challenge that assertion. Does it also maintain basil’s freshness for the longest amount of time? Of course, it does.
The Second-Best Approach
We’ve shown that the ideal approach isn’t always as workable as one might hope. Fortunately, there is a less ideal but still perfectly adequate option.
Basil can be kept in a plastic bag by rolling it up around the leaves; the second-best method of storing it after picking the leaves off the stems and arranging them on layers of paper towels or a clean kitchen towel.
The leaves are kept moisturized but not soggy or damp with this technique.
Freeze Food for Extended Storage
Do you wish to preserve basil for more than a few days? Frost it! There are numerous efficient methods for doing it.
Basil that appears to be the greenest and freshest should be swiftly blanched in boiling salt water for 15 seconds, drained, and dropped into cold water to fast cool it (this sets the green color), and then blended with a small amount of olive oil. The purée can be poured into ice cube trays, frozen, and then transferred to resealable plastic bags where it can be stored for up to a year.
Yes, that approach needs a little bit more work. Alternatively, you may arrange some clean, dry basil leaves on a baking sheet, freeze them until solid (this should take about an hour), and then put the frozen leaves in plastic bags that can be sealed. When basil is frozen in this manner, it turns dark, almost black, but the flavor is still strong. You must blanch it, press the water out, and then freeze it flat to keep it green. However, it is worth the trouble to blanch the basil because it keeps so much more flavor when made into a purée and frozen.
How to Make Food with Basil?
Before use, basil needs to be washed under running water and dried. After being freed from the stem, the leaves are torn, sliced into chiffonade, or finely chopped. They can also be added whole to pizza as a topping or garnish. The smaller stems can be used in meals, but the larger stems and stalks should be discarded because they are bitter. Instead, remove the stems and large veins before making the herb sauce since they contain elements that color pesto brown and black.
For the strongest flavor, fresh basil should be added toward the end of cooking. If basil is exposed to intense heat for an extended period, its volatile oils will disperse. To give the dried basil time to soften and combine with the other ingredients, add it toward the beginning of the dish. Basil is a great flavoring for infused oil. Basil flower tea and oil are other products derived from basil blossoms.
How Can I Purchase And Grow Basil?
While dry basil is more affordable and practical, fresh basil has a deeper flavor. Basil can also be bought frozen in recipe-sized cubes in the freezer section of grocery stores.
Although sweet basil is the most popular variety, other types can be obtained at farmers’ markets or in ethnic stores like Asian grocery stores. Another option is to try growing your own. Basil can be cultivated by sowing seed in soil or soaking a stem from another plant until roots develop. With nighttime temperatures over 60°F (15.5°C), basil can be grown for at least two months. Basil enjoys being in the light all day and is sensitive to the cold. Basil will flourish in a garden with good drainage or patio planter.
If possible, only take basil leaves from the plants as needed. To promote healthy growth, prune the stem at the base of the plant, only leaving two to four leaves. Put fresh basil stems in a jar with tap water to preserve fresh basil leaves for a few days. It’s debatable whether fresh basil should be stored in the refrigerator because cold temperatures can turn the leaves brown.
If you have a lot of fresh basil leaves, you can dry them and store them in a container with a tight-fitting lid. The leaves should not be crumbled until you are ready to use them because doing so helps to keep their flavor, aroma, and essential oils.
What are the Health Benefits of Basil?
By inhibiting calcium channels, eugenol from basil can aid in lowering blood pressure. The herb’s essential oils can help decrease triglycerides and cholesterol. Magnesium, another component of basil, helps blood flow by allowing muscles and blood vessels to relax.
The digestive system creates approximately 60% of all the resources the body produces. The onset of gastrointestinal disorders like celiac disease and lactose intolerance triggers a response from our immune system. Due to the expansion of the gut wall brought on by digestive inflammation, poisons can enter the bloodstream and induce systemic inflammation.
You should avoid refined carbohydrates like sugar and items made from white wheat because they are bad for your intestines.
The anti-inflammatory effects of holy basil appear to benefit the digestive system. Chew on some holy basil leaves after or before a meal. By using this technique, the leaf polyphenols can enter your digestive tract and reduce the signs of gastrointestinal inflammation there. The alkaline equilibrium in the stomach is maintained by chewing basil leaves, which is good for the digestive system.
Reduces Tension and Stress
There is growing evidence that the basil plant has adaptogenic properties. An adaptogen is a naturally occurring chemical that can help people maintain mental equilibrium and adapt to stress.
According to research, tulsi can help the body cope with various chemical, physical, emotional, and infectious stresses. An Ayurvedic study found that tulsi leaves have antidepressant and antianxiety properties comparable to diazepam and antidepressant medications.
Adding Tulsi to your herbal tea is the ideal way to get it into your diet. Add a teaspoon of tulsi leaves to a cup of boiling water. Drain the mixture after about 20 minutes, then drink it. It is safe to drink every day and is even advised due to the absence of caffeine.
Reference: Basil: A brief summary of potential health benefits
Can Basil be Used for Tea?
This recipe uses a slightly different methodology than our other herbal tea recipes. Although basil is generally used in Italian cuisine, it also gives the tea a distinctive flavor. Basil’s flavor isn’t potent enough, so combine it with black tea and lemon to create the perfect beverage! In holy basil, Eugenol, camphene, cineole, and other bioactive compounds may help open your airways and improve your breathing.
These compounds’ antimicrobial and antiviral qualities could aid in reducing the length of time that cold and flu symptoms last. Holy basil, sometimes referred to as Sacred Basil or Tulsi, is a sacred plant in Hinduism. Its leaves can be used to brew tea that strengthens the immune system.
What are Some Top Sweet Basil Plants for Cooking?
This basil kind is among the most popular and is widely used in cooking. It has sweet-smelling leaves and is green and purple. The two hues are basil and basil. Basil is a delicate plant that requires frequent watering, sunlight exposure, and rich, healthy soil to grow. You may learn how to grow basil from this article.
The most popular variety of basil is sweet basil while being the least frequent. This kind works well for making pesto, which is high in sugar.
For best health, it needs 4-6 hours of direct sunshine. It can also be grown in a pot for garnishing, but it requires top-notch potting soil and regular fertilizer. This variety of basil should only be grown in a sunny location because it cannot be used in cooking. It will require significant indirect sunlight if you grow it indoors.
Different Italian cuisines use this species of basil. This fragrant herb pairs nicely with almost anything and has a wonderful peppery flavor and a gorgeous flowery form. It grows best when planted in soil drains properly and receives 6 to 8 hours of daily direct sunlight. To thinly slice many fresh basil leaves, stack them. Roll the stack in a cylinder shape by doing so. Cut the cylinder crosswise at regular intervals with a sharp knife to create thin strips. Basil loses flavor when exposed to high heat for an extended amount of time, just like many other fresh herbs, so it tastes best when added to the end of cooking.
Genovese basil has bright green, slightly crinkled leaves that can get as long as 3 inches (8 cm). Large, fresh basil leaves are perfect for dishes like pesto, Caprese salad, and others. The same methods as other sweet basil plants can be utilized with Genovese basil.
Rich, potent flavor can be found in Thai basil. Because of its appealing shape and purple-veined leaves and stems, this plant is frequently grown inside. Preparing this attractive herb immediately is important because it quickly loses its aroma.
Thai basil is a superior option for soups, stir-fries, and curries since it is more heat-resistant than sweet basil. Most recipes can be used in place of sweet basil and eaten fresh in salads or dishes with cold noodles.
The plant Naples, Italy, is home to the Napoletano Basil. It is widely grown throughout Europe and used for various things, including cheese, fish, and chicken wrapping. It complements seafood, meat, sauces, and soups.
Using paper towels to store basil leaves can keep the basil fresh and help you save space in your refrigerator. After cleaning the leaves, you can roll them up on a damp paper towel and store them in a zip lock bag. These will last about 4-5 days and keep the basil from going bad.
If you want to preserve basil leaves for longer, you can put them in a Ziploc bag. Leave part of the bag open to allow for air circulation. You can also place basil leaves in the freezer. They will keep for six months or longer if frozen.