Sunday, September 4, 2011


Keeping cut basil green is a challenge.  I usually place it in a jar of water and leave it on my kitchen counter, where it will stay fresh for about a week and a half.   But my favorite food magazine, Bon Appetit, found a new way with basil. 

First, they tried storing it in the fridge, both wrapped and unwrapped, and found that it resulted in a wilted brown mess .  No wonder:  basil is sensitive to cold.  Like all plants, it produces ethylene gas, which is what ripens fruit but deteriorates leafy greens when they’re not allowed to breathe.  Bon Appetit’s solution?  Trim the stems as you would flowers to remove dried-up ends, then stick the bunch in a tall glass of water, loosely cover the basil with a plastic bag, and keep it on the counter.  This method allows moisture to stay in while ethylene escapes, making for basil that remains vibrant for nearly a week, by which time you may even see some roots sprouting.

I decided to try my own experiment.  I placed one sprig of basil in a jar with a plastic bag.  Two sprigs were placed in another jar without a bag.  Here they are at Day 1:
Every day at the same time, I changed the water in each jar.  No changes were noted in the leaves until about day 11, when the uncovered basil started showing signs of deterioriation.  Black spots appeared on some of the smaller leaves.

  By day 13, one sprig of uncovered basil had wilted. 

Note that my kitchen temperature was maintained at 76F during this time.  Remember, basil likes warm temperatures.  If your kitchen temperature is below this, deterioration will likely set in sooner; above this, and the basil may last longer.  On day 14, the covered basil was showing signs of deterioration, but had formed beautiful roots.  I may try to plant it.


Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

Interesting. If you can get roots on the covered and plant it, maybe that has a big advantage. You can at least get more that way :-) Diane

Barbara Bakes said...

Great idea! I love having basil ready to use.

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

Great idea. I've never covered it, but I'm off to cover mine on the counter right now.