June 19, 2012
Really, there are few tastes and fragrances that remind me more of summertime than basil. I absolutely love to cook with basil, and it is a staple in our herb garden each and every year. Today I thought I would share a few of the things I have learned over the course of the last few years regarding basil to help you make the most of the plants you already have, or possibly to inspire you to head out to buy some basil plants of your own!
Tip 1: Basil is a great option for container gardens.
I recommend dedicating one medium or large pot solely to your basil plants. Three to four plants per container is generally what I strive for, and I have found this yields more than enough basil for all of my culinary needs.
Tip 2: Trim off any blooms on your plants.
Allowing your plants to bloom will reduce the amount of lush, green growth as the plant shifts from growing mode into seed-producing mode. The basil leaves from blooming plants tend to have a more bitter, less pleasant flavor. To remove the blooms, simply cut away the flowers with garden scissors or pinch them off by hand. Don’t be hesitant to cut off quite a bit of the foliage as you work: pruning will actually encourage the plant to grow even fuller!
Tip 3: Harvest leaves in the morning.
The best time to harvest is in the morning, before the heat of the day. Even with ample watering, leaves will wither somewhat in the summer sun, so harvesting them when they are fresh in the morning will yield the best flavor and the lushest foliage. To keep the basil fresh until I plan to cook with it in the evening, I harvest what I need and then place the cuttings in a water-filled container in the fridge. It makes my refrigerator smell heavenly all day long!
Do you grow basil each year? What are some of your favorite basil recipes?
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