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When it comes to mints, this one might be in a league of its, especially because there are so many fun ideas for using fresh basil. But what’s the secret to keeping it fresh? “Keep it potted and in a sunny place, water every other day, and mist it daily,” says Yousef Ghalaini, executive chef of FIG Restaurant at the Fairmont Miramar Santa Monica in Santa Monica, California. “You should grab leaves from the plant by cutting at an angle an inch below the leaf,” he recommends. “Keeping fresh herbs in potting soil inside is great, just keep an eye on them and don’t let them bolt (this is the seed pod that pops up at the top of the plant once it gets old), as the leaves become really tough and lose flavor,” says Ghalaini.
Don’t have a live plant? The best tip for store-bought basil is to keep the the stems trimmed and place in a jar of water. Loosely cover it with a plastic bag, as it’ll create a mini greenhouse sort of environment. Basil does better at room temperature so never throw this one in the fridge, where it will wilt quickly.
Amazing in mashed potatoes, chives look hearty but are actually delicate. Even so, Ghalaini recommends the thick wet paper towel treatment, “and keep the towels moist,” he says. Here’s another, longer-lasting option: Freeze your chives. Wash, trim, and chop the herb, place them in an ice cube tray and just barely cover with water. Then freeze.