Why does my fresh basil turn black?

Joined Mar 12, 2005
Why does my fresh basil turn black?

I pick it from the garden, rinse it, chop it and by the time I put it on the plate it has turned black on the edges where it was cut.

How can I prevent that?
Joined Jan 23, 2005
Respect your Basil!!!
Be very gentle with it, it bruises so easy. Basil doesn't actually chop, as it bruises in the process. That's why you take the whole leaves, stack them, roll them up and use the sharpest, thinnest knife you have and slice the little basil rolls as thin as possible. They still will look dark green black, but it somehow seems more acceptable.
Joined Aug 18, 2007
I agree nowIamone, Basil need to be used at the very last minute and used as above or torn, never bruised and never chopped and left for a while till you you need it.
When making a tomato sauce, always add the basil after you turn off the heat just before service.
Joined Oct 10, 2005
Your basil is turning black because it is oxidiizing, same as with an apple or potato. Even by rtaring the leaves the exposed new surfaces will go black becasue they are exposed to the air around them--same as with a fresh cut apple.

You can't prevent this but you can slow it down, here's an old trick I picked up: Coat/drizzle the basil leaves with oil, now stack them up and roll them up a'la cigarette style, now slice them up. The knife blade becomes coated with oil and as it cuts, it coats the fresh cut with oil. The oil provides a barrier so the air can't get at the cut and turn it black.
Joined Feb 26, 2007
Yes you do need to respect your basil. When you wash it pat it gently dry, don't squash it. And as bughut says, tear it into the dish at last minute - or as per what foodpump says, I'm glad to hear back that it worked for you - I'll have to try that too. I like my basil green.


Joined Dec 20, 2006
Also, don't wash your basil. Just run a lightly damp paper towel over the leaves if you feel the basil must be cleaned.

Joined Aug 15, 2003
There is also a technique called the "backslice" which is kind of like a reverse slicing motion with the knife. Don't know why, but it seems to help the oxidation as well...and like stated earlier, use a very very sharp knife. Don't push on the basil, just easily glide the knife across the board and the herb.
Joined Aug 14, 2007
Foodpump, coating your basil leaves with oil is a great idea. Now I have an experimental sort of question I'd like to run by you. I've heard of coating your sliced apples with lemon juice in order to keep them from turning brown. Would lemon juice work on basil, as well? As much as I love basil (it's one of my favorite herbs), I don't grow them at home and thus never had a chance to try and see how my idea would work out.

Chef Ladybug.
Joined Jun 23, 2006
I am not foodpump, but I think I can help you. Stick with the oil, and not the lemon juice, YES, it works awesome on apples and pairs and suck, but thats cuz they have much more acidic enzymes in them than basil, so, although ive never tried it, and it may work stop the oxidation, it will alter the herb.
Joined Oct 3, 2006
We wrap ours very gently and keep it in a plastic "to go" container.

We still end up throwing out some basil here and there, but generally this works for us.
Joined Dec 4, 2001
Yeah, so do I. I had noticed that the basil we buy from Trader Joe's comes in a plastic "clam shell" to go container lasts much longer in the fridge than any other method of storing.

One other thing, if you are making pesto, blanching the basil for a minute or so first will keep the pesto nice and green longer.

Joined Aug 25, 2007
Thanks all for your advice.
I have an additional question: can I froze my basil?
I have 2 actually: where do you buy your basil when you don't have your own? the one at my local grocery store is already black in the store.
Joined Oct 3, 2006
I have never seen the effects of freezing basil, but all my senses tell me that this probably wouldnt work.

I will find out who provides our herbs, we always get it shipped very fresh.
Joined Sep 27, 2006
freezing your basil will make it go black too, when we go shopping as a family and it's -40 outside i put my basil under my coat to keep it warm till i get in the vehicle or it goes black. but i did hear something about possibly blanching it first then freezing it but i've never tried it but it would make sense like blanching veggies before freezing so they don't go mushy when thawed. has anyone else heard or tried that?
Joined May 22, 2010
I was just wondering if just after you chopped your basil w/oil on the leaves and knife, then immediately put it into a container, add just enough oil to cover (I would use olive), then popped it into the freezer...if it would keep a bit longer?  I will buy some fresh basil to make a dish, then for whatever reason, something comes up, the meal doesn't get made, and it sits in the fridge for a week, now it's black, and I'm mad at myself for having wasted my herbs. I know I should have made it the next nite, but, I wasn't in the mood then!      /img/vbsmilies/smilies/tongue.gif   ...  I know, I'm workin' on it.
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Joined Sep 16, 2010
I belong to a CSA and I get fresh basil, picked almost the same day. I use it immediately!!! Today I was shocked to find it turning black as it simmered with onion in preparation for fresh tomato soup. I knew that storing it in the refrigerator turns it black, but I did not think it would turn black as it cooked.  Is this normal?

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