Why You Should Think Twice Before You Refrigerate Basil

Basil is a popular ingredient that is used in a wide variety of dishes, and with good reason. Boasting a fresh, peppery flavor and robust balance of both savory and sweetness, the herb can complement everything from pasta dishes to desserts. It also boats quite a few nutritional benefits, with studies showing that consuming the aromatic herb can help protect against cancer and heart disease, regulate blood sugar, reduce the risk of infections, lower inflammation, and even help relieve depression and anxiety, according to WebMD.

However, there is no doubt that storing it can sometimes be a pain. Within days of purchasing the plant, its leaves can wilt, and soon lose their bold green color and the rich flavor that makes it such a great addition to many dishes. But there is some good news. It turns out, the herb might be losing its freshness because it is being stored incorrectly, so simply changing where you put the leaves can help ensure your basil stays fresher longer.

Basil should be stored at room temperature

Many people make the mistake of keeping their basil in the refrigerator. However, according to The Kitchn, storing the herb in the fridge can turn the leaves black. Basil, unlike its similar counterparts parsley and cilantro, should actually be stored at room temperature for optimal freshness. Instead, the best way to store the herb is to trim the stems, place them in a vase of fresh water, then cover them with a plastic bag to seal in the freshness. Just like a bouquet of flowers, you'll want to change the water regularly to help the basil last even longer. And if you want to use it in a dish, you can simply lift the plastic bag and snip off a leaf or two, while leaving the rest of the plant intact.

So, whether you purchase your basil at the grocery store or prefer to grow your own fresh herbs at home, keeping the stems out of the refrigerator once they have been cut is likely the best way to extend the life of the plant. Using this method, you'll be able to use the basil in all your cooking, from eggs to eggplant, for a greater length of time without having to worry about the herb losing its fresh flavor.