The Basil Fairy Tale

My flat mate’s latest purchase (picture) inspired me to this little story. Good luck with that, Iain!

Once upon a time a girl went to a supermarket full of hope and dreams about a rich green basil plant. She enjoyed this plant for a couple of days, made delicious food from it and then suddenly the shock – it died! She bought basil plants like a nutter and tried millions of tricks but nothing worked. The plant always died.

Does this sound familiar to you? We all experienced it before: you need basil for a certain dish and want some fresh one. The little plants in the shop look delicious and naively we think we can keep the plant alive and have some basil for the future. Only a few days later, we will learn that this was a false conclusion.

Over the last years I tried many techniques to keep the plants alive: I planted them in special earth in a bigger pot, placed them in the sun, in the shade, in the half shade. Watered them from the top, from the bottom or sprayed water on them. The result always remained the same, auf nimmerwiedersehen and good bye basil plant.

My intense research taught me there are several reasons for it:

  • For a start, those basil plants are not supposed to last long. The idea is immediate consume rather than lasting pleasure.
  • The basil has to grow very quick and the roots are often underdeveloped when they replant them in tiny pots with only little earth. The earth mostly lacks important nutrients the plants need to grow.
  • The long transportation after all of this causes total shock to the system.

With other words, the plants actually can’t survive. As at 2011, I haven’t found a way to keep them alive. If you know something, let me know. But there are a few useful tricks to get more pleasure from supermarket basil:

  • You can cut all of the basil leaves straight after you’re purchased it and put them in the freezer. Just make sure they lie loose in e.g. a plastic box. When you need them, you will always have fresh basil at home. I don’t chop them and they always come out very good. My experience showed me that it tastes just as nice as fresh basil. By the way, you can do this with all sorts of herbs so you always have something at home to refine salads or sauces.


  • Another way of preserving basil is placing it in oil. Just chop the leaves nicely, take an empty glass bottle (it needs to have a proper lid, Ikea does great ones), put the chopped basil in the bottle and pour good olive oil on top until the bottle is full. If you like it a bit fancier add one or two crushed cloves of garlic and some dried chilli flakes. In this way, you will have lovely oil for salads and cooking or a nice little present for your friends.


  • If you’re really keen on fresh “living” basil the best way is to plant it yourself. I did it before and it is pretty easy. Watching your own basil growing will bring you lots of pleasure and is a nice compensation for all the basil plants you had to throw away in the past!
3 Responses to “The Basil Fairy Tale”
  1. Fab says:

    Those are really good tips, I will try them! I have been that girl in a supermarket full of hope and dreams of a long-lasting basil plant too many times…:)

  2. thank you! enjoy the blog 🙂

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