Lazy Sundays: How to Store and Hydroponically Root Basil

'Tis the season for hoarding way more herbs than you can cook with. I heard through the farmers market grapevine that basil can be stored in a glass of water and it will not only last longer, but the stems will grow roots. I gave this approach a try with some basil from Peacock Family Farms and it has been a hydroponic champ going on two weeks a month now. I'm able to simply pick off what I need for each meal until the bunch is eventually all gone. This is much smarter than stocking the freezer with an end-of-times supply of spicy pesto.

Lazy Sundays is a series where I will feature random tips and curious things that I come across in my food journey.

Herb Storage Tips


  • Snip the stems of your fresh basil and place in a glass of water. Try to cut as far above the woody part as possible (if the herbs are a little older) without losing leaves. The water should come 1/2-1 inch up the stems. If healthy and fresh enough, the basil will grow roots and be fun for the whole family because nature is a magical unicorn.
  • If the basil isn't wilted but the ends of the stems are looking a little rough and haven't rooted, trim again. I was able to grow roots on the second try.
  • Change the water weekly or if it gets dirty/cloudy.
  • I have been told that room temperatre or slightly warm water encourages root growth.
  • Even if the basil doesn't root, keeping the stems freshly cut and in a jar of water will help them stay fresh.

Tarragon, Dill, Cilantro, and Parsley

  • Snip the bottoms, put in a jar of water, then cover loosely with a plastic bag and refrigerate. The water should come 1/2-1 inch up the stems. I've found that the herbs (especially tarragon) will keep for weeks if properly maintained.
  • Change the water weekly or if it gets dirty/cloudy. Snip the stems if they look funky/mushy.

Things I Googled

Can hydroponically rooted basil be planted in soil?

The information I found on the subject suggests that the roots are too thin to survive a move to dirt. I tried to plant my hydroponically rooted basil twice and the poor things died immediately. The Interwebs speaks the truth.

Do you need to add nutrients to the water?

I suppose if you're planning to turn this into a bigger project - maybe a little herb garden - a nutrient supplement may be beneficial. It's a slippery slope into hydroponic systems and more complex methods, so for the purpose of this post (it's lazy after all) I'll keep things simple. I stored my basil in a jar on the kitchen counter for a month and did nothing more than change the water once a week. The roots ended up being two inches long! Freakishly delicious.

Article Tags : basil, spring/summer
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