We drove up to Vermont to visit family and a few minutes after entering the house, a call for help to “make basil pesto – payment in kind” was made by the residents. I looked through the window overlooking the backyard and saw the enthusiastically thriving plant. The basil leaves, healthy and all clustered together. I amusingly dubbed it the “Basil Tree”. We scheduled “Basil Pesto Day” on our last day in Vermont.
An adorable newborn baby arrived in the household a week prior to our visit and had dramatically changed gardening priorities and sleep schedules (or lack thereof) of her loving parents. Understandable. We drove up to Vermont to see her. I couldn’t keep from watching and carrying little Miss package of cuteness myself.
On the morning of “Basil Pesto Day”, I walked on the dewy grass towards the plant box with a pair of scissors in hand. The leaves we harvested took half a day to prep and make into Basil Pesto. Our payment for the rewarding work were 2 pints of pesto, 3 quarts of salsa, and lots of time to spent with lil’ miss cutie.
Andy cut more Basil leaves before leaving, with the intention of making a Caprese salad the next day. When we arrived home, the basil leaves had wilted. Our family in Vermont kept basil leaves fresh by putting the stems in a vase filled with water. Unfortunately, our basil leaves were already trimmed and de-stemmed before our drive back to New York. I decided to try and immerse part of the de-stemmed/trimmed leaves in water to see what happens. The result? The wilted leaves looked fresh after a few minutes. We covered the basil leaves with a larger plastic bowl to keep them from drying out. The de-stemmed/trimmed Basil leaves thrived and we were able to have fresh basil leaves for a week.
I found a tip from kitchn.com for basil to keep more than a week. I haven’t tried this method since we had leaves and not stems. Trimmed or de-stemmed basil leaves may have a shorter stem life compared to basil with it’s stem intact.
How to Keep Basil Leaves Fresh
- Arrange trimmed or de-stemmed leaves vertically in a small bowl
- Make sure that each leaf is upright, with stem end touching the base of the bowl
- Fill the bowl with water until it covers the base/bottom of the leaves
- Cover the small bowl with a clear inverted glass or plastic bowl
- Keep at room temperature
- Uncover only when basil leaves are needed, place cover back to extend freshness
- Rinse and dry leaves before using