Basil Basics: Growing, Harvesting, Preserving


| 7/7/2015 9:50:00 AM


Tags: basil, container gardening, Zone 6, Midwest, Melodie Metje, Kentucky,

Basil is a native of Africa and other tropical areas of Asia where it has been cultivated for over 5,000 years.  It is a culinary herb that sends cooks into poetic rapture.  It is probably the favorite of the “sweet” herbs and well known from its use in Mediterranean cuisine.  It has a spicy bite when eaten fresh.

Harvesting Basil

For basil harvest, the key is to harvest before the basil gets too woody.  You can get multiple harvests from each plant.  Cut each stem back to the last 4 leaves. Give each plant a good dose of fish emulsion to support quick leaf regrowth.

 

Preserving Basil

You can freeze, dry, make basil into pesto, basil butter, basil vinegar, or basil oil.

For freezing, you can freeze chopped leaves into ice cubes to be able to pop into sauces.  You can also blanch and freeze.  If you don’t blanch, the frozen herb does not keep its color or flavor.  Blanching is simply throwing the herb leaves in a pot of boiling water for about 30 seconds and then quickly plunge them into a bowl or sink of ice water.  Dry the leaves then I then put the leaves on a cookie sheet, place in the freezer and when frozen, remove and put in quart freezer bags.  Now you can have fresh basil anytime you need it!

harvested basil 




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