Garden fresh basil is such a delicious treat all summertime long, and I crave the fresh harvest flavor during our long winter season. Collecting and saving basil leaves is among the first things I do as the growing season starts to unwind in late summer season, so I can protect as much of the remarkable taste as I can for winter season satisfaction.
Basil is among those plants that you can harvest from once again and again, all summer season long. It’s so amazing to be able to go out the back entrance and harvest garden fresh herbs for cooking, and to be able to have a continuous harvest.
To keep those delicious leaves growing, simply keep pinching off the flowers as they start to grow which will help motivate your basil plant to grow more leaves instead of using all of it’s energy on flowering.
COLLECTING AND SAVING BASIL LEAVES.
However alas, the time for gathering and storing basil leaves will come and you’ll wish to maintain as much as you can. I’m going to be truthful … collecting basil leaves spends some time, but it’s absolutely worth it. When it pertains to saving basil leaves, you have lots of alternatives (including endless recipes to choose from, but I’ll conserve that topic for a various post).
The best time to harvest basil is when the plant has great deals of leaves, but hasn’t begun to flower yet. If your basil is already flowering, do not fret! You can still gather the leaves after the plant is flowering, you simply might not get as large of a harvest.
The leaves are what you are after when you’re collecting basil. It can be a bit of a laborious task, so ensure you’re not in a rush to get it done. Also, plan to collect your basil leaves when it’s not very hot out, and keep the excludes of direct sun while collecting to keep them from wilting. To make it a bit easier, you can cut whole stems and bring a whole lot inside the house for collecting or fresh cooking.
To collect basil leaves, simply pinch off each individual leaf. Mildew can be a big issue with basil, so ensure to choose only the healthiest, best leaves. Inspect each leaf as you gather, and dispose of any leaves that show signs of illness, or leaves that are starting to turn yellow or brown.
As you harvest your basil, drop the leaves into a dry bowl or basket. You do not desire basil leaves soaking in water for any period of time due to the fact that they will turn brown quickly.
KEEPING BASIL LEAVES.
Though harvesting basil leaves is a bit tiresome, saving the leaves is much easier. It’s best to consume newly harvested basil leaves within a couple of days after you collect it.
If you have basil leaves you want to keep in the refrigerator, make certain they are totally dry prior to saving them. Wet basil leaves will turn brown extremely rapidly. I use my salad spinner to spin dry my basil leaves then I can store them in the refrigerator right in the salad spinner. It works terrific and the basil leaves will remain fresh for a few days in the fridge. You can also utilize an herb keeper to keep fresh herbs in the refrigerator.
By far the most convenient way to store basil leaves for the long term is by freezing them. Plus, frozen basil keeps it’s flavor much better than dried basil. You don’t even need to slice basil leaves up prior to freezing them. Once they’re frozen, the ended up being really breakable, and you can crush them up truly quickly right in the freezer bag if you desire.
Basil freezes very well, and it doesn’t take much preparation time either. All you require to do is put the leaves into freezer bags and pop them into the freezer. Once again, it’s finest to make certain the leaves are quite dry prior to freezing them by doing this (or you may end up with one giant basil popsicle).
You might also flash freeze specific leaves on a cookie sheet for 10-20 minutes prior to putting them into the freezer bag, which way they will not stick at all. However if you do want basil popsicles, you can use herb freezer trays or mini ice cube trays to freeze them too.
Another method to protect your fresh harvest of basil leaves is to dry them in dehydrator or a warm oven, then crush or grind them up and fill a spice container for your kitchen. I use my mini food processor to squash the leaves for my spice rack, however you can also buy an herb mill too. Like I said, dried basil leaves do not maintain their taste as well as they do when you freeze them … but it still includes a nice flavor and fragrance to your favorite meals. Plus it helps to keep my spice rack full!
You might likewise make a batch of garden fresh basil pesto with your basil leaves, and freeze that for later use. Pesto freezes simply as well as basil leaves do (you can also use the herb freezer trays or mini ice cube trays to freeze pesto in perfect parts for cooking!).
Harvesting and storing basil leaves for winter season usage is well worth the effort. (Believe me, you will thank me later on!) Before you keep your basil though, make sure you enjoy a fresh capris salad (with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese and balsamic vinegar … divine!!). Or drop a few fresh leaves into your favorite pasta dish or salad. Believe me, you’ll wish to savor that amazing flavor due to the fact that there’s nothing else like it.