Growing, Harvesting and Using Basil


fresh basil

Basil is one of my favorite plants. I seriously think everyone should grow it, as it's so easy. Basil is extremely healthy, delicious, versatile, and can be used fresh, dry or frozen (though nothing equals the taste of freshly picked basil leaves). 

Basil is very easy to grow from seed. You can sow the seeds either directly in the soil or in a large pot - placed out of doors or even near a sunny window. In either case, make sure not to buy them too deep. Basil likes warmth and partial sunshine - mine thrives in a spot where it gets sunshine in the morning and shade in the afternoon. Full sun is unnecessary and may even be excessive in hot, dry climates. 

If you're a poultry keeper, you will soon discover that your chickens love fresh basil as much as you do, so make sure to fence off the garden beds or, if you grow in pots, put them out of reach of chickens. 

Harvest basil from the top down to encourage further production - when you harvest the top, it results in bushier plants. Pick off and discard blemished leaves. Rather than strip a single plant bare, take some leaves from several plants. It is recommended to pinch off all flowers, but you can leave some if you wish to collect seeds for next year. 

What to do with those wonderful fresh basil leaves? The possibilities are endless! Basil is great in salads and all sorts of dishes, especially combined with tomatoes. It is terrific in pizza sauce. But my favorite use for basil is pesto. This versatile sauce/spread has only a few ingredients - basil leaves, nuts (any kind - pine nuts are the classic, but you can substitute any kind of nuts, walnuts, cashews, etc), olive oil, salt, garlic. Just toss it all in the food processor, taste, and play with the amounts to your preference. The result is sure to be delicious. The pesto can be stored in a jar in the fridge for a few days, and used as a sandwich spread or as pasta sauce, particularly with grated parmesan cheese. 

7/19/2019 7:50:38 AM

Instead of pine nuts I use Soy Beans. Get dry beans at the Asian store and cook in the crock pot on low overnight or boil 60 minutes.

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