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How to Store Fresh Basil So It Doesn’t Get All Brown and Sad
PHOTO: LIZ ANDREW/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

Delicious in pasta and on top of pizza (not to mention an absolute must-have for homemade pesto and Caprese salad), basil gives that certain non so che (that’s je ne sais quoi in Italian) to countless dishes. But more often than not, a recipe calls for just a couple of leaves to be added as a garnish, which leaves us with an entire bunch of basil that’s likely to turn droopy and brown faster than you can say buon appetito. Because we hate wasting food (and crave Mediterranean cuisine pretty much every day of the week), we were determined to figure out how to store fresh basil so that it stays greener for longer. Presenting the no-fuss method that will make the most out of this fragrant herb.

How to Store Fresh Basil

Trim the bottom of the basil stems and place in a jar or glass filled with water. Place the jar on your kitchen counter (bonus: this will make the room smell amazing). Change the water every couple of days or when it starts to discolor, making sure to keep the basil at room temperature (and not in the fridge like you can do with cilantro). You’re basically treating the herb the same way that you would a bunch of flowers. Using this method, your basil bouquet should last one to two weeks. Not too shabby. 

Wait, Can You Freeze Basil?

Yep, you can totally freeze basil. For the freshest-looking greens, you should blanch and shock the herbs. Here’s how: Throw the leaves into a large pot of salted boiling water for about 15 seconds until they wilt. Drain them and then plunge into a bowl of ice water. Pat the greens dry and marvel at the basil’s vibrant color. Then whirl the herbs in a high-speed blender or food processor with some olive oil and pour the mixture into ice-cube trays for freezing. These little pops of flavor will keep for up to a year in the freezer. Magic. 

8 Ways to Use Basil

Basil makes an obvious (yet excellent) garnish for pizzapasta and flatbread, but that’s not the only way to enjoy these aromatic greens. Try it in a cooling gazpachohealth-boosting smoothie or on top of a big batch of meatballs. Or why not let basil be the star of the show in one of these pesto recipes? But our favorite way to use basil might just be not cooking with it at all.

As it turns out, this delicious pizza accoutrement doubles as a stress reliever. That’s because it contains high amounts of an organic compound called linalool. Several recent studies have vouched for its potency—including a lab rat study from 2009 in which a team of Japanese scientists found that exposure to linalool reduces the activity of hundreds of genes that typically go into overdrive during stressful situations. Pretty cool, right? Next time you’ve had a bad day, don’t forget to stop and smell the pesto.  

RELATED: 14 Pasta Recipes That Are Easy Enough for Weeknights 

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