Basil can stay green for a few hours!

I didn't know cut basil can stay green for a few hours! #basil

I have always used the chopped basil immediately because it turns brown quickly and then doesn’t look appealing. Basil leaves are delicate and bruise easily. When you cut basil you are creating surfaces to be exposed to air. The basil turns black because it is oxidizing, just like an apple. You cannot stop this process, but you can slow it down.

Using a chiffonade cut is one way to slow it down. A chiffonade cut makes the basil into ribbons. How do you create the ribbons? Choose sprigs of basil with the smallest leaves. They are the sweetest and most tender. Stack several leaves on top of each other with the stems aligned. Roll the stack into a “hot dog” shape. (Remember hot dog vs. hamburger folds from school?) Hold the roll with one hand and using your sharpest and thinnest knife cut straight down starting at the top of the leaves and moving down toward the stems. Slice as thin as possible. Don’t push on the basil, just easily glide the knife across the board and the herb. Delicately fluff the ribbons with your fingers to separate the ribbons. Place the chiffonade in a dry bowl and cover it with a damp paper towel. This is how basil can stay green for a few hours. It prevents discoloration and moisture loss.

A second method is to lightly coat the basil leaves with oil before stacking them and rolling them.  The knife blade becomes coated with the oil that is on the leaves and as it cuts, the oil seals the cut.  The oil provides a barrier so the air can’t get at the cut and turn it black.

Always remember, add basil at the very end of cooking. Do not add it in your pan as you are cooking or it will immediately turn black.

Now I know one more thing that can be done ahead of time which is always a good thing!


I am a mom to Five Little Chefs who love to cook and create anything with their hands. Watching over 10 additional hands keeps me busy but is so much fun! We laugh and cry everyday, but then want to do it again the next day. That is how we know we are enjoying life!

5 Replies to "Basil can stay green for a few hours!"

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    Kristl August 12, 2013 (11:47 am)

    I having success with my basil plant this year, so I’m cooking more & more with basil. Thanks for the tips!

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    Christy Garrett @ Uplifting Families August 12, 2013 (1:04 pm)

    Thank you for sharing this information. I don’t use fresh herbs, I wish that I had the time and strength to plant a garden. I miss eating fresh veggies.

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    ladyladuke August 13, 2013 (11:10 am)

    These are great, as I am always getting the black color, and put it in the pan too quickly. I love chef tips like this!

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    Columba Lisa Smith August 13, 2013 (4:53 pm)

    This is my first year growing a basil plant, and I just learned how to harvest the leaves by snapping off the top part of each stem. I didn’t know these two handy tricks; thanks for sharing! I love basil on homegrown tomatoes, with a little olive oil!

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