How to Grow and Preserve Fresh Basil

by Annie
4 Materials
2 Months

Basil is such a pretty plant and the leaves taste delicious. We start our plants from seed and can keep a plant or two growing here for about half of the year.

Basil is easy to grow, it loves the sun but doesn't like the cold. We grow ours on our porch where they are more sheltered than out in the garden.

We really like Basil fresh for cooking or adding to salads. Since we can't keep plants growing all year here, we came up with another way to store Basil.

These are some Basil seedlings that are ready to be put into much larger containers.

But even at this point, a leaf pinched off a few of the plants will be great for using fresh in the kitchen.

Just take one leaf, no more from each plant. Later, once the Basil plants are larger, you can harvest several leaves from each plant.

As the plant gets larger, pinch the center stem. This will stop it from growing taller.

A harvest of freshly picked and washed Basil. There are a few ways to preserve these leaves. Some gardeners dry them at this stage.

The leaves can be air dried - just put them in a shallow container and stir them around once a day. Let the air get to them.

This isn't my favorite way to preserve Basil, because Basil is one herb that just doesn't taste as good once it has been dried. This method works, though.

Here's what we do.

Just place the leaves in ice cube trays. Then add water to each cell, making sure the leaves are covered.

Pop them in the freezer; one completely frozen, you can transfer them to large Ziploc bags.

Whenever you want fresh Basil, just pop however many cubes you want to use. It's a great way to enjoy fresh homegrown Basil even in the middle of winter.

I also use Basil when I am making our homemade Tomato Sauce. If I make a huge batch of sauce, I water bath can it so I can safely store jars of sauce in our pantry.

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Frequently asked questions
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  3 questions
  • Honey Honey on Apr 16, 2019

    I’m having a problem with some critter chewing up my basil leaves! What should I put on them? I don’t see whatever it is.

  • Nao Nao on Jun 09, 2019

    My basil plant leaves are small and never get to be as big as the ones pictured here. Is mine a different type of basil or should I be doing something to coax them to get larger?

  • Gabrielle Falk Gabrielle Falk on May 05, 2020

    Won't the basil be soggy when it thaws? A Lebanese friend of mine stores parsley in the fridge, in a plastic container, lined with a 'Chux' (it's like paper towel, but with more of a fabric texture. They can be washed and re-used.) She told me that it is imperative NOT to wash the parsley. And the parsley should last for quite some time. Guess the tiniest dot of water, will make the parsley soggy. When my parsley grows a bit more, I'll be trying it out.

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6 of 11 comments
  • Honey Honey on May 10, 2019

    Thanks so much! I think I found one of the critters! It was a snail! Now somethings picking on my dahlia leaves! I’ll find it too!

    • See 3 previous
    • Debbie Ventimiglia Debbie Ventimiglia on Sep 15, 2019

      I'm always a little more careful with the products used to get rid of pests on the herbs plants. For the snails and thugs, beer works very well. Not the light or flavored ones. The stout or ones made with full yeast works best. Either spray on the leaves or surround the plants with beer in jar lids. Other pests, use white or apple cider vinegar/water, half of each, in a spray bottle to spray sparingly on the leaves of the basil plants. The smell will fade in the sun. Doesn't hurt the basil's scent. Hope this helps!

  • Cathryn Pratt Cathryn Pratt on Apr 23, 2020

    Thanks very much for the idea of freezing basil leaves in ice cube trays. I live in Ontario, Canada and generally have success keeping a basil plant all winter, as a house plant.