Increasing Shelf life of basil

We use fresh basil on a couple of our pizzas and offer it as a topping. In the winter we buy it in one pound bags. This time of year we grow our own. Ideally it should be stored at about 55F but that option is not available.
When we buy it from our produce vendor it lasts anywhere from 3 days to a week before it is not usable. When we cut it from our plants at the house, we are lucky if it is useable 48 hours later. We keep it in the prep table. We tried room temp, that is no good, we tried the green bags you see on tv, no help. tried plastic tubs etc etc.
Does anyone have a method of making the basil last longer. It really sucks when I have to call the wife and say “bring me some basil right away, someone just ordered a large marg. and the stuff we have is turning black”


We’ve had quite a few problems with this. We could only get about 3 days out of a 4 lb bag. We used about 5 oz and had to throw it out.

We finally started putting the entire 4 lbs in water. A large tub of water. We don’t cut it or anything, we just get it in from the distributor, take it out of the bag, and put it in the water. We’ve now been getting about 2 weeks out of it.

Hope this helps.

I got tired of throwing it out as well. 3-5 day max shelf life. So I put some in the freezer to see what would happen. It was great for putting in on pizzas or in our sauce in it’s frozen state. The best part, it didn’t change the flavor and we never wasted any more basil!

Handy tip: Mince the basil on a cutting board, and then load it into the cups of an ice tray. Fill with water just to barely cover the herb. Bingo! you have small amounts that you can thaw under cld water, wring in aclean towel, or press gently in paper toweling.

The is also a products on the market somewhere called SupHerb Farms. They have quite the selection, and the samples I used of basil, parsley and rosemary worked fabulously. 100% usage, looong shelf life in freezer, and you simply thaw what you need. The cost is about 25% to 30% over fresh cost . . . and that is well below my actual cost when I figure in waste and unusable material.

Well worth asking your disributors about.

Sorry, I should have been more specific on how we prepped it! We stripped off the leaves, Chopped them up coarse (1/8-1/4”), then put the basil into 2 qt. prep tub and put it directly into the freezer. When we needed it, Hit the prep tub with your hands and it all breaks apart and is ready to use. Just don’t let it set out to long or you will have a clump of Basil next time you need it. Most of the suppliers sell fresh frozen herbs. Like Nick said, when you factor in the non useable parts, it’s probably cheaper.

Thank you all for youre replies.
We tried several things, and what we found worked best with fresh cut basil was to put it in a vase or jar of water just like cut flowers. We kept at room temp. the stuff stayed very fresh for longer than any other method we used. We also dug up a couple of our basil plants and potted them. We brought them into the store and kept them by the window where they get light. We have fresh basil that we pluck when we need it. Since potting them though they are not keeping up with demand, I don’t think the light they are getting is enough to get the job done.


Just wash and dry the leaves, pluck or cut the stems off and lay them on a sheet pan. Once frozen, place in either ziplock bags or a sealable container.

I don’t know if your space or budget allows, but I have an aerogarden ( and basil is fantastically productive in it.

When I looked into it, my concern with growing hydroponic herbs such as basil is the possibility of lower amounts of volatile oils (which give it flavor). Nothing conclusive, but there is an indication that field grown basil has more. Have you tried a blind taste test to see if you and your friends notice a difference? Even if the hydroponic basil has less volatile oils to begin with, perhaps it still tastes better because it is significantly fresher.

September 20, 2004
Effects of growing conditions on essential oil composition of sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum)
Mentors: Dr. Dean Kahl and Dr. John Brock

Abstract: Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) is a popular culinary herb that is prized for its distinct aroma and flavor, which is largely due to volatile essential oils. Previous research has shown that the environment affects the essential oil composition of basil. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of hydroponic cultivation and field cultivation on the essential oil composition of sweet basil. Basil was grown in both greenhouse hydroponic systems and field plots. After four weeks the basil was harvested and 10 samples were collected for each treatment. The essential oils for each treatment were isolated by steam distillation. The samples were analyzed by gas chromatography with a flame ionization detector (GC-FID). An unpaired t-test with a Welch correction was used to analyze the four main constituents of basil essential oil. Significant differences were found for all components analyzed: eugenol (P=<0.0001), cineole (P=0.0003), methy chavicol (P=<0.0001) and linalool (P=0.0003). Field cultivated basil contained larger amounts of eugenol, cineole, and linalool than the hydroponic basil. The main component in hydroponic basil was methyl chavicol which was present in very small amounts in the field basil. This research shows that there is a significant difference in composition of essential oil in field and hydroponic cultivated basil. From this analysis, however, it cannot be determined which cultivation method produces basil with the most desirable essential oil. Further research needs to be done on how these constituents contribute to the flavor of basil.

I never even thought that there might be a difference, so I haven’t tried any blind taste tests. it certainly smells very strong and always tastes just like I expect basil to taste. I don’t think there is an appreciable difference that customers would notice.