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Why does my fresh basil turn black?

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
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?
post #2 of 36
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.
post #3 of 36
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.
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post #4 of 36
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.
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post #5 of 36
Thread Starter 
Thanks, just tried that and it worked.
post #6 of 36
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.
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post #7 of 36
Also, don't wash your basil. Just run a lightly damp paper towel over the leaves if you feel the basil must be cleaned.

Shel
post #8 of 36

food

I have the same problem....
post #9 of 36
That's a great tip - thank you!
post #10 of 36
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.
post #11 of 36
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.

Questionably,
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post #12 of 36
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.
post #13 of 36
Thank you, Chef Torrie :)
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post #14 of 36
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.
post #15 of 36
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.

Jock
post #16 of 36
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.
post #17 of 36
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.
post #18 of 36
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?
post #19 of 36

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!        ...  I know, I'm workin' on it.


Edited by foodie13 - 5/22/10 at 3:32pm
post #20 of 36

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?

post #21 of 36

This is a great idea food pump. What we used to do before service was simply chiffonade our basil then cover it with a moist paper towel. Unless you cut it right when you need it, it is nearly impossible to avoid the oxidation.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by foodpump View Post

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.
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Thanks,

Nicko 
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post #22 of 36

I recently put up a bunch of basil by running it through the blender with just enough water to make the machine run properly. This slurry was poured into ice-cube trays and frozen. Once hard they basil cubes were popped out and stored in a zipper bag.

 

So far there has been no darkening of the cubes. But if they're going to turn black I would expect them to do so when they defrost. The questions will be 1. Does that happen (it might not because, being surrounded by water, oxidation may be eliminated) when they merely deforst? and, 2. Will they turn black if added directly to a soup, stew, or other dish being cooked.

 

I'll monitor this and let y'all know what happens.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #23 of 36

just my 5 cents worth...i try not to chop fresh basil, i tear it by hand into a dish or a salad... doesn't seem to blacken as quickly and i like the whole experience of handling/smelling it while doing so ..more of a  grassroots experience, i guess..it's really 'hands on'... fresh thyme as well...pain in the buttski, but well worth the pleasure.....if there is an over abundance of basil, sometimes i just process it in an fp with a bit of oil, and freeze, and then sometime in the dark days of december/january, i pull it out and make pesto or whatever...usually a nice reminicence of the summer  lost gone..

joey

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post #24 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by carolee1945 View Post

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?



Here's the thing.  Basil is the last ingredient to hit the pot, somewhere in between turning off the stove and serving the soup.  If you put it in the beginning as you did here not only will it curl up and die on you but it loses all its flavor.  Delicate herbs like basil, dill, and even parsley  are always put in the end because as soon as the heat hits them that's when they release their aroma.

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post #25 of 36

I also like taking my basil and making fresh pesto and then freezing it. Pre-made pesto is very expensive. KYH let me know how the ice cube trick works I am really curious how that will impact the flavor. It should be fine (just like flash frozen fresh seafood retains a lot of it's original flavor) but I want to hear how it came out for you.

Thanks,

Nicko 
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Nicko 
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Bacon (I made)
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post #26 of 36

I'm anxious to find out myself, Nicko.

 

Freezing pesto that way has always worked well. But in that case we're coating everything with oil.

 

Maybe I'll experiement with the frozen-in-water cubes sooner than expected. I had hoped to wait until after frost had wiped out my basil plants. But inquiring minds do want to know.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #27 of 36

maybe because it is oxidiizing, same as with an apple or potato

post #28 of 36

Great idea and works well...I seem to grow array of basil types and way too much to use one time...

So I too use the Food Processor & oil ...but I go one extra step...I figure I usually use garlic with my basil so I chop garlic and seasonings with my basil and olive oil a dash of salt really enhances the flavor too.

either i keep in fridge and use as a salad dressing base and add vinegar on the salad...or pour in a saute pan when flavored oil is needed,..they as not to do this it will go rancid (bacteria) but i been doing it for yrs and use it so quickly so i just keep doing it...it will congell in fridge so set out before using..

and I also will freeze in ice cube trays.....try using soften butter & a lil Olive oil as a wonderful butter for fresh baked read..I pour these in fancy cube trays freeze then set on a pretty plate with bread

OKay here is  another...take  sun dried tomatoes, garlic & basil chop in food processor as you drizzle olive oil, lots for a nice flavored oil or lil as paste put into a glass jar  or freeze as butter for breads & use as needed...also add butter to this too for a festive butter to serve....

Mexican combo Cilantro tomatoes hot peppers & oil is a nice oil & butter too....when making fresh bread use these in the ingredients too...I am sorry I went on a roll...MY mind never sleeps when theres creating going on...ENJOY smile.gif

post #29 of 36

Alot of good suggestions posted and I would definitely stick to being gentle with basil. Basil's origin are from warmer climates, why not try immersing stems into a vase with cold water and keep at room temp.Cut or tear as needed.If you need to put them in the fridge,wrap paper towel around the them, to absorb moisture and keep in a partially open plastic bag, speaking of bags, try those green veg.bags for staying power of fruits and veg. Keep them in a warmer part of the fridge and also not beside any fruit. Since they are fresh cut, the stems are releasing ethylene,and putting them in a closed container they deteriorate much quicker, same reason you don't want them beside fruit, because of the release of ethylene gas. As for your need to have fresh cut basil, the way to go is immersion in oil. After cutting your stems swish in a sink of cold watter,make sure you add salt to the water and let them sit for 5-10 mins. this should take care of any bugs. Swish again to release any dirt or foreign material. If you are looking for a nice bright green, blanch and shock with ice bath, chop coarsely, squeeze out water, puree for 5 mins. with oil. Otherwise grab the handy salad spinner, place in your trimmed leaves and spin dry, cut immediately and immerse in oil. The most important factor here is bacteria, so it needs to be kept in the fridge the absence of oxygen will preserve its flavor but is a feeding ground for botulism at room temp. This will keep for a couple of wks. at which point the flavor has transferred into the oil, strain it and you have basil oil.

I hope something here helped.

post #30 of 36

I bought fresh basil on Sunday; did not do some of the above mentioned precautions.  It has black spots.  So, is that bacteria?  I washed it well tonight; clean on the bottom side of leaves, but black spots on many of the leaves' top side.  What is the verdict?  Throw the spotted ones out?

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