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Can You Eat Basil Stems? And What To Do With Them!

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We really love basil, and we try to buy fresh one that is on the plant and pick the leaves ourselves, but I never question if I can eat basil stems.

But now, after seeing that people are curious if basil stems are edible, I suddenly became curious as well and decided to research the topic to come up with a good reliable answer.

In this article, I will try to explain how you should eat basil stems if you don’t want to throw them away and what you should expect from their taste and texture.

eating cooking chocolate

Can you eat basil stems?

Basil stems are edible, so you can eat them raw or use them in various dishes. The basil stem that is close to the leaves tastes similar to the leaves themself, but if you go further down the steam and reach the thicker part of it, it might have a bitter, unpleasant taste.

The texture of the stems is a bit crunchy but quite easy to bite through, which makes them unnoticeable in many recipes. If you are eating the stems raw, the texture can be pretty annoying, especially in a sandwich or a salad, since you can end up with small pieces of basil stems between your teeth.

What to do with basil stems? 

There are a lot of great uses for basil stems other than eating them raw if you don’t want to throw them away.

We will talk here about a few of them, but you should be able to find more since a lot of recipes can make great use of this delicious herb.

-Pesto. The most obvious use for the fresh basil stems is to mix them with the fresh leaves in pesto. If you use only the smaller ones closer to the leaves, they will most like not change the taste and texture of your pesto, or at least not significantly.

-Tomato basil sauce. Basil stems can be added to tomato sauce to make a delicious tomato basil sauce that will give you a great Italian-tasting sauce for pizza or pasta. For this sauce, I don’t recommend using only the stems. You should always use the basil leaves, you can add the stalks as well, but the leaves are the ones that will give the taste to the sauce.

-Salsa verde. This is another sauce that can make great use of the basil stems and leaves. I won’t get into all the details about making this sauce since it will be another entire article, but here is a link to a recipe for homemade salsa verde.

-Soup. Any soup that can be improved by adding a few basil leaves can also have a few basil stalks. Basil stalks will get soft and unnoticed if boiled a bit, so adding them to your soup can be a good idea.

-Add them to a salad. If you like the taste of basil stalks and want to make your salad “greener”, you can add them to any salad, especially a salad with mozzarella, since basil taste works well with it.

-Dry them. You can dry basil stems for later use as you would dry basil leaves, making them last longer and easier to store.

dried basil

-Basil Panna Cotta. Yea, I know, Panna Cotta is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of what to do with basil stalks, but it is a thing. Here is a recipe for basil Panna Cotta that clearly says that you need basil, including stalks.

I hope after this list you know what to do with your basil stems, I’m sure there are other great uses, but those are the most popular ones.

How to buy good fresh basil?

No matter what you plan to do with your basil stems, whether you want to use it raw or cooked, the most important thing is to buy good fresh basil, to begin with, in case you are not growing it yourself.

For this, I will give you here a few things to check before buying basil from the market to make sure you get a good one.

-Firm stems. While we talk about eating basil stems, this is a good indicator of how fresh the basil is. You should avoid that specific basil if the stems are soft and mushy.

-Color. The leaves should have a bright green color without discolorations or brown spots.

-Smell. We all know and love the nice and fresh smell of basil. Even dried basil has a nice smell, so a fresh one should also have it. If it doesn’t have a strong smell or has a weird swampy smell, you should avoid it.

-Firm leaves. You should avoid basil with wilted leaves and soft stalks since this is one of the clearest signs that basil will not last long.

Read Also: Why Is My Ginger Bitter?


So eating basil stems is perfectly fine. If you use it in a recipe, you will not even notice the stalks if the leaves are added as well for extra flavor.

I hope you know how to choose good fresh basil after reading this article and what to do with the leaves and the stems.

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