Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Jun 19, 2013 05:46 PM

Fresh basil. I am perplexed.

Usually I am so very careful with fresh basil to the point of not washing it until the last minute before I use it. Yesterday, I picked some lettuce for sandwiches and decided to nip a couple pieces of parsley and basil while I was in the garden. Came in, dumped the lot into a deep tub of cold salted water. Swished around, gave it a few minutes for the dirt and any possible bugs to settle to the bottom, then did a second rinse with fresh cold water. Blotted dry between paper towels and stored what I didn't use in a ziploc in the fridge. Today it occurred to me what I had done and expected to find black basil. Instead it is beautiful. Any idea why this worked so well? Is it a fluke or have I been needlessly babying my basil all this time?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. You're better than I am. I just pluck it off of my plant and toss it right into the pot or into the food processor for pesto...unwashed.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Philly Ray

      Nah, you're just braver than me. I don't want the extra protein. lol.

      1. I only have "black basil' issues when I've actually broken the leaf (either through cutting or rough handling). If you are careful and just wash the leaves they should be fine and not blacken.

        "Old" basil that you may get in the grocery may already be breaking down - which may cause it to blacken more readily with washing but fresh basil should be fine.

        1 Reply
        1. re: thimes

          I have had basil I have just picked from the garden blacken after washing. I wonder if the young age of the plant is the difference. Or maybe I need to be more diligent with regular trimming even when I don't need any. In other words, maybe it's the age of the leaves. I will put this to the test. Thanks for your input.

        2. You've been needlessly babying your basil. :)

          2 Replies
          1. re: tzurriz

            lol. As per my reply to thimes above, maybe I need to baby the entire plants by trimming on a more regular basis.

            1. re: MrsJonesey

              they respond very well to frequent trimming. more basil, more basil.

          2. i use a similar technique to store lettuce (wash, and wrap moist lettuce it in paper towels or a tea towel, place wrapped lettuce in ziplock bag in fridge).
            it will keep lettuce fresh for a week.

            good to know that this approach also works on basil.

            3 Replies
            1. re: westsidegal

              I've used the wash/wrap in a damp paper towel for basil for ages, and it keeps maybe 7-10 days. Never had a problem with it turning black.

                1. re: enbell

                  Thanks for everyone's replies. I have always believed the cold turned basil black, but I found out differently this one time. Pine time and enbell both say they regularly prepare and store basil the way I described so it's more than a fluke.

            2. The cold is what causes basil to turn black, so don't put it in the fridge. Just leave it in a glass of water on the kitchen counter until you use it and it will be fine for a few days. Better yet, don't pick it until you're ready to use it.