• Friday , 10 January 2020
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How to keep Basil Leaves Fresh

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


  1. Arrange trimmed or de-stemmed leaves vertically in a small bowl
  2. Make sure that each leaf is upright, with stem end touching the base of the bowl
  3. Fill the bowl with water until it covers the base/bottom of the leaves
  4. Cover the small bowl with a clear inverted glass or plastic bowl
  5. Keep at room temperature
  6. Uncover only when basil leaves are needed, place cover back to extend freshness
  7. Rinse and dry leaves before using

how to keep basil leaves fresh


how to keep basil leaves fresh





  1. Susan @ Culinary Envy
    September 2, 2016 at 9:03 AM Reply

    Thanks for the great tip on basil! I love fresh basil and it seems to brown all too quickly, so I can’t wait to try this!

  2. Liz @ I Heart Vegetables
    September 2, 2016 at 10:31 AM Reply

    This is genius! I’m trying to keep my basil plant alive and I need to start trimming the leaves off but I wasn’t sure what to do with them once I snipped them! Thanks for sharing!

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