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Tip: Basil gets second life on countertop

August 14th, 2008 · 3 Comments · Cooking tips

I guess everybody knows by now that your basil stores much better in water in a jar on the counter, right? And covered with a perforated plastic bag, as Marc suggested? And as Marisa replicated? (Some have suggested putting the basil bouquet in the fridge, but I don’t recommend it; basil likes warmth.)

photo of basil leaves in short water glassI accidentally took this little storage method one step further. Eleven days ago, I got a little bunch of basil from Rolling Prairie Farmers Alliance. It seemed like too little to bother with making pesto, so I thought I’d just use leaves as the week progressed. I gave fresh cuts to the stems—what there was of them—and stuck them in a glass with about 1/2 inch (1 cm) of water. I figured that if it didn’t work, I’d make a little dabble of pesto anyway.

Well, it worked amazingly well: These were more like basil tops than stems of basil, which meant leaf connections were under water and, therefore, expected to rot. They did not. And the flavor remains good. And I didn’t use a plastic bag (though Lord knows it’s been plenty humid). And I haven’t added or changed the water. And they sprouted roots! I hadn’t remembered that from the past or from Marc’s post.

But here they are: My 10-day-old basil (photo was yesterday) above, and its roots, below.

By the way, if you do give your basil a whirl, here’s my preferred way of storing pesto.

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3 Comments so far ↓

  • Meryl

    Wow, this would be a great way to continuously grow basil in the winter without waiting on seeds or having to buy plants every month.

  • [eatingclub] vancouver || js

    Thanks for this tip. I always have a quarrel with basil. I love basil but everytime I buy a bunch they get brown before I’ve had the chance to use them all up. It’s a tad frustrating. I’ll try this with the next bunch of basil I get.

  • Janet Majure

    Naturally, tonight I see some deterioration setting in (due to those underwater leaves, I think), although that doesn’t diminish the technique one iota.

    But, yes, Meryl, it does seem to be a possibility, although I suspect to keep it really growing you would need lots of light. And Vancouver, it’s the cold that turns it brown. Do try the technique. I think you’ll like it!