Selection and Storage Tips for Fresh Tomatoes and Basil

Caprese Salad

Fresh tomatoes, sun-kissed and sweetly ripened on the vines are in full harvest right now!  Of course,  with fresh tomatoes, our next “flavor thought” is sweet basil.  We thought we would share a few basic tips on selection and storage of  these two classic summer ingredients!

TOMATOES

Selecting

  • Use your nose!  Smell the blossom end (not the stem). It should have a rich tomato aroma.
  • The tomato’s skin should be taut (not shriveled) and free of bruises and blemishes.  They should feel full and heavy for their size.

Storing

  • Store ripe tomatoes in a cool, dark place with the stem-side down and use within a few days.
  • Do not refrigerate! Refrigeration negatively impacts a flavor compound, nullifying the flavor and creating a mealy flesh.

BASIL

Selecting
Look for fresh, vibrant green leaves with no discolored spots or signs of decay.

Storage

  • Leaves
    • Fresh basil leaves should be layered in damp paper towels inside a plastic bag. Refrigerate up to 4 days.
  • Whole Stalks
    • Place stalk in a glass of water and cover with a plastic bag with the bag secured to the glass.
    • Store in the refrigerator, changing water daily. Use within one week and wash leaves as needed.
  • Freezing Options
    • Blanch whole leaves for two seconds and immediately plunge the leaves into ice water. Pat dry and place the leaves in a airtight bag in the freezer. For optimal flavor, do not thaw before use.
    • Put whole or chopped fresh leaves in a spare ice cube tray. Cover with water or broth and freeze. Once frozen, place the cubes out in a airtight bag in the freezer. Use within 4 months.
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