Thursday, 4 August 2011

How to grow, harvest and preserve basil

The basil started indoors in February and planted out in May is growing well. Basil germinates easily and grows happily in a warm sunny spot but protected from the wind. And there are many varieties to try growing and include red and purple varieties.


Harvesting basil is very easy. Just pinch off as many leaves as you need but leave some leaves on each branch so the plant will keep growing. You can alternatively cut off whole branches which makes it easier to wash and remove leaves for preserving.


For the best flavour, pick your basil early in the morning before the hot sun has come out and dried the plant and pick leaves when young.


Besides being an important culinary herb, with its warm spicy flavour, basil has other uses. Place a pot of basil on a windowsill to deter flies or infuse some leaves as a tea to aid digestion. However, we think its at its best when added to freshly picked tomatoes in a simple tomato, basil and olive oil salad.


To preserve your basil for use in the kitchen there are several options but, whichever you choose, always wash your basil thoroughly first and dry well before preserving. 


To freeze basil, chop the leaves and mix with olive oil before freezing or place two teaspoons of chopped basil in ice cube trays and fill with water and freeze.


You can also dry by hanging bunches for 2-3 weeks in an dry and breezy area such as by a kitchen window and once thoroughly dry crumble your basil for storage into an airtight jar.


Basil will also keep in the fridge for several weeks. Firstly heat olive oil to very warm and add chopped basil, remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature before pouring into a clean jar and seal. Once fully cooled keep in the fridge. 


Finally, you can make your own pesto and freeze it or keep it in the fridge for a couple of weeks. There are endless recipes available on the internet and include pesto without nuts for those with an allergy or using walnuts if pine nuts are not available.

2 comments:

  1. How do you propogate basil?

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    1. You can propagate basil by rooting cut stems in water

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