drtmama
Full Member
Posts: 24
Joined: Sun Feb 01, 2009 10:09 pm
Location: va

So, what do I do with all this basil?

I am a newbie gardener and planted my first herb container with sweet basil, curly parsley, greek oregano and thai basil. I planted the already started herbs at the end of April.

Now, the basil is growing like crazy. I've got tons of it and they look ready to pick! How do I properly pick them?

Can they be stored fresh or do I dry them since I won't be using this much so soon?

I tried picking a few leaves early last week, washing them and drying them well and put them in a plastic baggie in the frig. But, they don't look so good now! Kind of mushy like!

Also if I do dry them, how is that done?

Sorry for so many questions. :? :?

Thanks for all your help.

Jackie

GardenerGirl
Full Member
Posts: 44
Joined: Mon Jun 01, 2009 5:04 pm
Location: Massachusetts, USA

A couple of tips when picking basil:

1. Don't let it start to flower. If the stems show signs of flowering, prune them right away. Once your basil starts flowering, it will lose flavor quickly.

2. Don't pick off individual leaves unless you only need one or two, and don't cut entire stems. Trim off the top part of one or more stems, and cut from right above where two leaves branch. This will encourage the plant to regrow thickly.

3. Don't take more than 1/3 of the plant at a time.

I'm not very good at drying herbs, so I'm not going to venture any help there. I do find, though, that I always end up producing way more basil than I need. I end up dumping it in just about every dish I make from July-September.

If you're just looking for a way to use it up, homemade pesto freezes really well. I make 5-6 batches throughout the summer, and freeze 2-3 portions from each. I just used the last of it last week, in time to start making more.

User avatar
somegeek
Senior Member
Posts: 217
Joined: Wed Apr 01, 2009 5:51 am
Location: Vancouver, WA - zone 8a/b

A preservation method we've used(and found does well) is to chop up the leaves to a course texture. Toss with a little olive oil. Place into a one gallon zip top bag. Flatten to distribute in the bag evenly. Place a cutting board or other flat object over the bag and press to flatten further and get all the air out. Zip shut and place on a flat surface in your freezer. It freezes into a board of basil. When you need basil, you can break off chunks as needed. :)

somegeek

drtmama
Full Member
Posts: 24
Joined: Sun Feb 01, 2009 10:09 pm
Location: va

Thanks, GardenerGirl and somegeek!

I appreciate the info! Didn't have a clue what to do with all that basil!

I think I'll try some in spaghetti sauce I will make this week and try that freezing method too, somegeek.

:)

User avatar
jal_ut
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7480
Joined: Mon Jan 19, 2009 3:20 am
Location: Northern Utah Zone 5

I like to dry some. It will keep for years dried and stored in a jar. Then you have it whenever you need a bit of the flavor and aroma.

Here in dry Utah, you can dry it just by placing it on some kind of rack so the air can get around it. Electric dehydrators are also good for drying foods and herbs if you have enough need to justify the cost.

I cut all the leaves off just before it blooms.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

The Helpful Gardener
Mod
Posts: 7493
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2004 2:17 am
Location: Colchester, CT

Pesto, dahling... lots and lots of [url=https://www.elise.com/recipes/archives/001329fresh_basil_pesto.php]pesto[/url]... you can do without the nuts and make it cheaper, but I love the pinon nuts, almonds are nice, especially raw...

Yummy... but my basil is still tiny... :(

HG
Scott Reil

frangypangy
Full Member
Posts: 17
Joined: Tue Jun 09, 2009 9:55 pm
Location: South Florida

I'm not sure if you want more basil plants, but when you decide to clip or "prune" your plant, you can actually grow additional plants from the clippings. If you leave a little space below the leaves on the stem that you are clipping, you can take that clipping and put it in water and eventually it will grow its own roots and you can plant that! I started with one plant and with clippings alone, I now have EIGHT, with more on the way! Its gotten a little out of control. :lol: I've been using some of the extras I've grown as gifts for my friends and family.
I've tried to refrigerate extra w/ little success.... I would say though I had slightly (very slightly) better odds when I did NOT wash them before and put them in a bag dry and waited until time of use to wash. I heard you can freeze it, but I haven't researched that avenue yet.
Hope the info helps! :)
Franchesca

The Helpful Gardener
Mod
Posts: 7493
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2004 2:17 am
Location: Colchester, CT

Yea FP, we freeze (make a pure pesto, just oil and basil, freeze in ice cube trays and cover with plastic wrap). No where as good as fresh, but we just used the last cube from last year the other day... still better than anything I can get at the store... :)

HG
Scott Reil

GardenerGirl
Full Member
Posts: 44
Joined: Mon Jun 01, 2009 5:04 pm
Location: Massachusetts, USA

If you want to store herbs for a few days in the fridge, you can get decent results by taking a damp paper towel and folding it around the cut herbs, then placing the paper towel package and putting it in a plastic bag. That's how I package my herbs when I'm giving them away to people, and they stay fresh longer than just putting them straight in the fridge.

The Helpful Gardener
Mod
Posts: 7493
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2004 2:17 am
Location: Colchester, CT

Hey GG, we just keep fresh stuff in a small glass in the fridge; like a bouquet. Works great for more than a week...

HG
Scott Reil

User avatar
!potatoes!
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1899
Joined: Tue Apr 14, 2009 6:13 pm
Location: wnc - zones 6/7 line

in the produce-market world, basil is well known to degrade quickly if made too cold. a room-temperature vase of at-hand basil works pretty well (if you change water and trim bottom of basil daily - like you were trying to make cut flowers last as long as possible).

yumoOo
Full Member
Posts: 28
Joined: Mon May 25, 2009 6:19 pm

GardenerGirl wrote:A couple of tips when picking basil:

1. Don't let it start to flower. If the stems show signs of flowering, prune them right away. Once your basil starts flowering, it will lose flavor quickly.

2. Don't pick off individual leaves unless you only need one or two, and don't cut entire stems. Trim off the top part of one or more stems, and cut from right above where two leaves branch. This will encourage the plant to regrow thickly.

3. Don't take more than 1/3 of the plant at a time.
your post helped a lot I've been doing it all wrong. lol

calvey
Full Member
Posts: 23
Joined: Sun May 24, 2009 9:13 pm
Location: Boca Raton, FL

I think I have the same problem. I believe this is Basil (all my pots lost their ID's). it grew sooo fast and I can't use that much! I am in sticky south FL, so I don't know that drying is an option.

Is it at least ready to be trimmed?

[img]https://www.novakmedia.com/kse/images/basil1.jpg[/img]

GardenLisa
Full Member
Posts: 56
Joined: Sun Apr 05, 2009 11:20 pm
Location: Victoria BC

So jealous of all of the basil. I pinch the tops, chop it up and put it on my tomato sandwiches... omg! You'll never use salt again! lol
Going to try the trick with the olive oil, sounds fantastic.
I have made basil vinegars before... excellent base for a vinaigrette.

siren1024
Full Member
Posts: 54
Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 6:42 pm
Location: Tennesee Valley, AL

I don't want to sound like a shill here, but I have had really good luck with the Green Bags. You can get them in the supermarket now. I watch a lot of Food Network, and I believe it was either Giada DiLaurentis or Mario Batalli, said that the best way to preserve basil is either in a vase with water, as someone mentioned, or, if you are going to refrigerate it, completely wrap it in several layers of paper towels (to draw the moisture away and to prevent cold damage) and store it in a ziplock bag. I started doing this with some green bags I bought (because I also had way too much basil) and I have made it last up to 2 or 3 weeks with minimal wilting and flavor loss.

User avatar
Gary350
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 4924
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:59 pm
Location: TN. 50 years of gardening experience.

If you cut off the tops where there are 2 leaves the plant will then grow 2 tops in the place of that 1 you cut off. When it starts to flower then trim it again this time cut off the 2 tops and it will turn into 4 tops. Then if you cut off the 4 tops it will turn into 8 tops. Any time it starts to flower trim off the tops.

This year I am using a solar dehydrato for all my herbs. Fresh Basil has a very strong aroma a 1 gallon basket of basil in the kitchen the aroma will just about take over the entire house in a few hours. After it has been dehydrated its aroma is not as strong as it was before but it is easy so store in the spice rack.

In the past I filled 1 gallon zip lock bags with Basil tops and froze them. They hold pretty much all the aroma and flavor when frozen. A year later they smelled and tasted about the same so I did not plant basil for 3 years. I have some frozen Basil that is 4 years old I think after 4 years it has finally lost some of its aroma and flavor.

The frozen basil is more like fresh picked from the garden while the dehydrated basil is more like what you buy at the grocery store only better.

jamesy
Cool Member
Posts: 74
Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2009 12:57 am
Location: Bucks county Pa

somegeek wrote:A preservation method we've used(and found does well) is to chop up the leaves to a course texture. Toss with a little olive oil. Place into a one gallon zip top bag. Flatten to distribute in the bag evenly. Place a cutting board or other flat object over the bag and press to flatten further and get all the air out. Zip shut and place on a flat surface in your freezer. It freezes into a board of basil. When you need basil, you can break off chunks as needed. :)

somegeek
That sounds like a great idea :-()

orgoveg
Green Thumb
Posts: 468
Joined: Sat Jun 06, 2009 5:06 pm
Location: Ohio

I've dried basil and sage before with paper bags. It's really simple. Hang the plant upside down in the open bag by wrapping the top of the bag around the stem. Put a twisty tie or a rubber band around the bag top. If you store the bags in the house and you have central air, the climate shouldn't matter much. I don't know exactly how much time has to pass, but you can just open the bags to check. Shake the leaves off the plant and pour the dried leaves out of the bag.

I don't remember who to credit for the idea because I read it years ago.

Return to “Herb Gardening Forum”