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Can You Eat Basil That Has Turned Black? Let’s Find Out!

Can You Eat Basil That Has Turned Black? Let’s Find Out!

Do you use fresh basil?

Most home cooks have dried basil in their spice cabinets, as an herb that lends authentic flavor to Italian dishes.

Fresh basil has a stronger, ‘greener’ flavor that works well in sauces, salads, and soups.

Fresh basil does have a lifespan, which is why many people dry their fresh basil leaves to begin with.

However, if you are keeping fresh basil, know that over time or exposure to air and water, the basil will darken and eventually turn black.

Can you eat basil that has turned black?

You can not eat basil that has turned brown or black- nor would you want to as the texture is slimy, the smell is bad, and the taste will be off-putting. If you notice a few brown spots, the basil is likely safe and fine to consume- though you may want to pick over the herb and remove the worst leaves. When basil is old or has prolonged exposure to moisture, it will first darken and then turn black and mushy.

Has your basil turned black? Keep reading to learn what to do!

Fresh Basil from the Garden

Basil is a fragrant herb that is often used in pesto, bruschetta, and marinara or spaghetti sauce.

It is also delicious when added to a salad of fresh greens, bringing depth of flavor to even the simplest vinaigrettes.

Growing basil in a container is easy, and it thrives outdoors as long as you pluck the flowers from the stalks before the plant turns to seed.

You should not eat any fresh herb that has turned black.

This is a sign of spoilage, rot, and could cause food poisoning in some instances.

If you notice brown spots on your fresh basil leaves, pick through them and try to remove the ones that are most affected.

Next, store and preserve the rest to get more shelf life before you need to discard the basil.

You can tell that your basil has turned bad when it becomes slimy, caused by the natural oils in the basil when it is not stored properly.

Never consume black or mushy basil. It won’t taste good and certainly won’t bring the herbaceous flavor of basil to your dish in this condition.

Air and moisture can quickly deteriorate your fresh basil, which is a good reason not to store it in the fridge for any length of time.

The Preservation of Fresh Basil

There are two effective and easy ways to preserve basil that can extend its longevity and ensure freshness longer.

One is by creating a basil bouquet on the kitchen counter, and the other is the plastic bag method.

Basil Bouquet

Treat your basil just like you would a bouquet of fresh-picked wildflowers.

First, trim the stems and remove any leaves that would fall below the waterline in the jar or vase.

Add room-temperature tap water and change the water routinely.

Keep the bouquet on the counter and never in the fridge.

Remove and snip your basil from the arrangement as you need it!

Plastic Bag Method

Wash and dry the basil stems and leaves thoroughly before placing in a resealable plastic bag with a dry, clean paper towel.

This towel will absorb any moisture. Seal the bag and keep in the fridge with your other fresh produce.

By using either of these two tactics, your basil should stay fresh for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator.

You may also choose to freeze basil, in a single layer between paper towels and wrapped in plastic.

This can extend its life up to six months.

Frequently Asked Questions About Can You Eat Basil That Has Turned Black

Why are the basil leaves turning brown?

for a prolonged period of time. Also, if you store it in the fridge in a plastic bag, condensation can cause the basil to turn brown. The natural oils in the basil will cause it to deteriorate after it has been picked and washed, so store it properly for the longest shelf-life.

What can you do with brown basil leaves?

The best thing to do with brown basil leaves is to throw them out. If you have just a few brown spots, pick over the leaves, discard the bad, and quickly use up the rest.

How can you tell if basil is bad?

Your fresh basil has turned bad if it is brown, black, slimy, or mushy. The basil will look and smell bad- so do not eat it.

How do you keep basil fresh after cutting?

When you store basil properly, it should last up to six months in a freezer.

Is fresh basil the same as dried basil?

Dried basil becomes more concentrated during the preservation process, so the flavor may be stronger and more pungent than fresh basil. Use about a third of dried basil for fresh basil in your favorite recipes.


Use these tips to preserve and keep your basil fresh until you use it.

Also, refrain from eating or using basil that has turned brown or black- it is better to omit it completely from a recipe than to use basil in this deteriorated condition.

You may want to keep a jar of dried basil on hand just in case!