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Why Does Basil Turn Black in the Refrigerator? (Solved)

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Last updated on September 23rd, 2022 at 11:49 am

The Basil plant is beneficial but sometimes exhibits specific changes that might confuse you. When kept in the refrigerator, most food items retain their quality for a long time.

However, basils usually start exhibiting specific unexpected coloration – turning black. This occurrence leaves you to ponder why the plant is different. 

So, why does basil turn black in the refrigerator? The reason is simply a reaction to the coldness and frostiness of the fridge. Basil as a herb plant is domestic to relatively warm tropical and subtropical climates and, by implication, cannot tolerate cold or damp environments.

Like every other herb, basil herbs don’t do well with cold temperatures. Therefore, it is most advisable to mix your basil leaves with a bit of alcohol, preferably vodka.

If you are going to freeze it as a storage method, but while grooming the herbs, try as much as possible to keep it around sunlight.

Exposure to frost is likely to cause basil leaves to retract and die off hence the black appearance. 

What Happens When Basil Leaves Turn Black?

There are many reasons why your basil leaves are turning black.

It is either infected with a bacteria that eats deep into its system and makes it not consumable when the infection spreads far.

Fresh basil contains live enzymes, turning black or dark brown when cut or torn off, just like an apple.

This means that the enzymes have started digesting the food, and you have nothing to worry about.

In other situations, the appearance of black coloration is due to frost. The reason is that Basil leaves appreciate warm temperatures and tend to wither in cooler temperatures.

While the basil leaves might still be healthy to eat even when they lose their natural color, the texture and taste will be affected.

Is it Okay to Eat Black Basil?

The consumption of black basil is not advisable. Notwithstanding several brown areas that can be edible, the possibility of the basil leaves being bitter is very likely, especially when it has become very sticky.

However, some dark spots that do not feel sticky or slimy will not make the basil consumable, but it is not very edible either.

Explains the reasons why you should not refrigerate fresh basil leaves.

Basil leaves going black can be a result of three main reasons, which are:

● Bugs attack

● Infections from bacterial

● Fungal infection

1. Bugs attack

Identifying the types capable of causing dark spots on the leaves has been an issue for debate. Still, a means of identifying bugs attacking basil leaves have been identified.

Seeing if other plants have been affected is a significant determinant for identifying bugs attacking basils. Bug attacks can be contained using vinegar.

Add vinegar to a nearly full spray bottle and spray thoroughly over your basil leaves, from top to bottom.

2. Infection From Bacteria

The bacteria responsible for this is called pseudomonas chicory. Before affecting the leaves, it fights and attacks the roots.

Many have said that pseudomonas Cichorii is a bacteria that attacks seedlings which means that the possibility of growing very healthy plants is vague.

However, identifying the bacteria early enough can help prevent the spread of the infection.

3. Fungal Infection

Fungal Infections initially appear as tiny greyish specks on the underside of basil leaves and spread to the larger areas of the lower leaf surface.

This slowly but surely destroys the entire plant as growth stops, the plant wilts and turns yellow, the stems become severely twisted, and the leaves eventually drop.

Unfortunately, there is no sure cure for fungal Infections yet, so it is advisable to harvest your basil leaves immediately if you see symptoms of Fungal Infections.

How to preserve Basil?

There are pretty many ways to preserve basil. They include the following.

● Cut your basil into a liquidizer, then add a generous amount of oil and water to coat the leaves.

● Mixing your basil leaves with vodka can help enhance the aroma and taste. Put your basil into a glass jar, add a cup of vodka to it, and then cover it with a lid.

● You can also preserve basil by chopping them and freezing them in olive oil. The basil is likely to shrink with this method.

● Drying basil is one of the easiest methods of preserving basil.

● Preserving your basil with salt is also very effective. Get a clean jar, and pour in salt before putting in your basil which you should have cleaned and dried.

● Treating your basil like you would your fresh flowers has proven to be effective. This method is referred to as the “basil bouquet.”

You can put them in a water vase to keep them fresh when you must have plucked them. It would be best not to allow your basil to begin to flower before you pluck them.

Of course, plucking them does not imply you cut from different areas. Else, you will be leaving your plant bare.

● You can use plastic bags to store them in the refrigerator. This action doesn’t just keep the basil fresh but shields it from the cold and frost of the fridge. 

In the process of taking care of your basil plant, watering is essential. However, as much as this is undisputed, you must take caution not to overwater to leave it soggy, which might cause it to rot and die.

Can Basil Make You Sick?

This result depends on how you consume the basil. Eating basil in cuisine is not harmful but consuming it directly threatens your health.

Taking basil for medicinal purposes is not advisable as it increases the rates of getting liver cancer.


Basil leaves are both healthy and harmful. Knowing how to use and preserve them are essential tools in aiding you to achieve your purpose for the leaves.

Besides having nutrients that help deal with depression, basil helps lower the risk of age-related memory loss.

In addition, it helps cure intestinal gas, worm infections, kidney conditions, and loss of appetite. Locals also use it to treat snake and insect bites.

As helpful as this plant is, it should be well preserved. Otherwise, it’s rendered unsafe for consumption.

Therefore, ensure to research better ways of preserving your basil other than using a refrigerator.

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