Can you eat basil stems?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “Can you eat basil stems?” and will discuss common mistakes while using basil in recipes.

Can you eat basil stems?

Yes, you can eat basil. You may use the finely chopped or tossed green stems of any herb (such as basil, parsley, or cilantro) like a bay leaf in your cooking. Once the remainder of your dish is cooked, it’s simple to remove the large stems. Soups, sauces, and even stir-fries benefit greatly from the inclusion of these tasty grains.

How to Cook with Basil Stems?

If the crunchier texture is acceptable, cilantro stems have the same fresh taste as the leaves and may be utilized. As a starting point, we asked people to try basil leaves and different parts of the stems, uncooked, to determine whether they liked them more than the leaves alone.

We were all unanimous in our opinion that the delicate, thinner, younger stems tasted as good as the leaves did. However, bitter tastes started to dominate when tasters approached older, thicker sections of the stem, especially the lowest part of the central stem.

As a result, we used our food processor to make two separate batches of traditional basil pesto, one with destemmed leaves and the other with an equal number of leaves and delicate stems. There was no way for tasters to differentiate between the two batches.

Avoid Making These Fresh Basil Mistakes

The popularity of fresh basil stems from the fact that it’s simple to cultivate and adds a wonderful flavor to meals from all over the world. How much of a difference does it make whether you buy basil from a store or cultivate it yourself?

When it comes to cultivating and using fresh basil in cooking, most people make a few basic errors.

Mistake #1: You’re including it in your meal too soon.

When using heat to prepare food, the general guideline is to add dry herbs first, followed by fresh herbs. If you boil fresh basil leaves for an extended period, they will wilt and lose their taste, while dried basil takes time to soak up liquids and release flavor. Don’t rely on fresh basil to be the foundation for other tastes in soups, stews, sauces, and sautés; instead, add it at the very end for a last burst of flavor.

Mistake #2: There isn’t enough basil in the dish.

If you’re using fresh basil instead of dried, adding it too early is one mistake you might make; the other is not using nearly enough of it. Because drying concentrates the herb’s taste, you’ll need to use less of it to have the same effect. If you’re using fresh rather than dried basil, the recipe calls for three times as much as in this delectable Spinach & Shrimp Fra Diavolo.

Mistake #3: You’re not composting the stems.

Removing the stems from fresh basil before using it is the first step, right? However, by discarding the stems, you’re also throwing away some excellent chances to season your food. As rough as stems are (and as bitter as they may be), they’re a welcome addition to soups, sauces, and other dishes that call for leaves. Cut them finely and add them to rice or couscous with a little butter and salt for a tasty side dish.

Mistake #4: You’re using the incorrect type of basil 

Sweet basil is a common kind of basil. As a result of its widespread use, it’s often simply referred to as basil. This is often what you’ll find at your local supermarket. Sweet basil should always be used in recipes that merely call for “basil.” A greater taste in another kind may have an unexpected consequence in your recipes.

While raw holy basil may be bitter, purple basil’s beautiful purple hue becomes black when cooked, therefore it’s better to eat it raw. To give you an idea of how strong each variety’s anise-like flavor is, lemon and cinnamon basil are named after their respective flavors. These cultivars are becoming more popular, although mostly at farmer’s markets and backyard gardens. To get an idea of how the tastes may influence your favorite dishes, start by combining these types with sweet basil.

Mistake #5: you’re storing basil in the refrigerator.

Use a glass of water in the fridge to keep fresh herbs fresher longer. Then seal the water-filled glass with a plastic bag and store it in the fridge. However, basil is an exception. Room temperature is preferable for storing basil. The basil should be trimmed off all the leaves at the bottom of the stalks and placed in a glass of water, much like flowers. Now all you have to do is put it on your counter out of the sun for a few days and you’ll have an attractive, aromatic bouquet of fresh herbs available anytime you need one.

Other FAQs about Basil that you may be interested in.

How to know if basil is spoiled? (6 easy ways)

Are bay leaves basil? (+5 substitutes)

How much dried basil equals fresh? (+5 things)


In this brief guide, we answered the query, “Can you eat basil stems?” and will discuss common mistakes while using basil in recipes.


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