How to Store Basil and Tomatoes

How to store basil and tomatoes

This post came to me out of the blue as I was making up the tomato marinade for one of our favorite summer pastas, Ina Garten’s summer garden pasta.  As you can see from the below photo, this marinade uses both fresh basil and tomatoes.

Ina's summer garden pasta

So it got me to thinking, why not bang out a quick post showing you all how to best store these two summer staples.  Both of these methods have worked for me, my tomatoes taste juicer and sweeter, and my basil lasts longer and smells and looks great in the kitchen, as it sits on the counter!  Bonus!  This post is not fancy, but a simple how-to post, so here goes!

Storing Basil

How to store basil

Lets start with how to store basil.  When I purchase a bunch of basil I don’t typically use the whole bunch at once, so this tip is great for storing any leftover basil you may have, as well as storing a fresh bunch that you just picked up from the store.

So here’s what I do with my basil when I get home from the grocery store to maximize its freshness.

Using kitchen scissors or a knife, snip off the bases of the stems, as you would a bunch of flowers.

Snipping the ends of the basil

Fill a small glass or mason jar with some water, and place the bunch of basil in the glass, making sure that the stems are in the water.

Store the basil at room temperature.  Basil is a herb that does best at room temperature. If you put it in the fridge, the leaves can turn black.

Make sure change out the water every few days or so, and you may want to snip a bit more off from the stems.  Think of the way you keep flowers fresh, it’s the same with basil.

Depending on how fresh your basil is when you buy it, it should last for anywhere from 1 – 2 weeks.

Basil in a glass of water

I just wanted to share with you a photo and text my friend Megan sent me after she took my advice on storing basil.

Megan’s text: “I bought a pack of organic basil at the market this past Tuesday. I followed your tip and treated the majority of the pack like cut flowers. I stored a smaller part of the pack on the counter as is. Look at the two side by side 6 days later!”

I love this side-by-side comparison, pretty awesome!  Thanks Megan!

Storing tomatoes

How to store tomatoes

First off, you should eat or use your tomatoes within two to three days of purchasing them.

Secondly, DO NOT STORE YOUR TOMATOES IN THE REFRIGERATOR!  When tomatoes are stored in the refrigerator they loose their flavor and develop that mealy texture that most grocery market tomatoes have become known for. They are less sweet, more bitter and don’t have any aroma. Yuck!

Store your tomatoes on the kitchen counter (room temperature that is) in an area that is between 55 and 70 degrees.  The tomatoes will continue to develop their flavor as they ripen.

If you purchase semi-ripe tomatoes, store them in a closed paper bag (not plastic) on your counter.  Check them every day to see how they ripen up.

Super easy, right?

How to store basil and tomatoes

Ok, so I hope this post was helpful to you all.  Both these storage methods work for me, so I hope they work for you! Hey, not only does this help your produce stay fresher,  but it’s also a simple way to dress up those kitchen counters with beautiful tomatoes and a basil bouquet!

Let me know if this post was helpful to you!

Do any of you have any great tips to share?  If so, leave a comment!

With love Jackie

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6 thoughts on “How to Store Basil and Tomatoes”

  1. I have actually heard that you should store the tomatoes with the stem side down, as moisture can leak out of the
    stem area. It even went so far as to say that if that causes the rounded tops to become dented, that you could put
    a piece of tape over the stem “scar” to prevent moisture from leaking out.

    1. Hmmmm…. I’ve heard that as well, but I took a vegan cooking class and the instructor told us to store the tomatoes stem side up because it slows the softening and darkening of the tomatoes, but who knows what the correct method is. I always store mine stem side up, but maybe stem side down is the way to go. I’ll give it a shot next time and see if it makes a difference. Thanks for the tip T.R. 🙂 xoxo, Jacquelyn

    1. Thanks Lynee! Yay! I’m so happy to hear that this post was helpful to you! I aim to please 😉 xoxo, Jacquelyn

  2. As a CSA share member, it seems like the basil comes into season all at once, and when it does, there’s no time to make pesto. So, I wash it, spin it dry, and pack it into 1 quart freezer bags, expelling as much air as possible. I then stack the flat bags in the freezer and, voila, I have almost fresh basil all winter long.

    1. Hi Charleen! Thanks so much for sharing your tip on freezing basil. I’m totally going to do this, as I miss fresh pesto in the winter! 🙂 xoxo, Jacquelyn

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