Basil, also known as Ocimum basilicum, is a flavorful herb that is simple to cultivate in a home garden and may be used to enhance the taste of a variety of foods. If you take the time to harvest and store your basil in the correct manner, you will always have enough of this delicate herb on hand to give your dishes a hint of its signature sweet taste. According to Fine Gardening, the United States Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 to 11 are appropriate for growing basil.
Harvesting and Storing Basil
Once the plant has produced numerous leaves, you may begin harvesting basil by just pulling the leaves off the plant by hand once it has reached the appropriate size. North Dakota State University recommends that you remove no more than three quarters of the leaves off the plant at any one time. Frequently picking leaves from the plant will encourage it to continue to put forth new growth; nevertheless, it is important to remove the flower heads before they have a chance to open.
Immediately after picking the basil, wash and dry it well. You may keep the basil in a sealed jar in the refrigerator for up to five days if you aren’t planning to use it straight away. The basil may also be stored at room temperature for up to ten days without losing its flavour. Still Tasty recommends that you cut off the stems of the basil and set them in a cup or dish filled with water. They should be covered with plastic, and the water should be changed as soon as it loses its clarity.
You also have the option of freezing the basil for a period of between four and six months. The taste of the herb will be preserved if you choose with this choice, despite the fact that it makes the basil less appealing as a garnish. After the herb has been chopped or pureed, add it together with some water in an ice cube tray. After the ice cubes have been frozen, they may be placed in a plastic bag for storage. There is also the option of blanching the basil leaves, letting them dry, and then placing them in a plastic bag with a seal and freezing them.
Drying Basil Herbs
You may dry basil to keep it for an even longer period of time. Before you start, you need to make sure that the basil has been cleaned and dried completely. The leaves should be spread out on a tray and stored in a warm spot that is shielded from the sun, such as a storage shed for gardening equipment or an attic. Make sure there is enough ventilation in the area.
You may also speed up the drying process by using low heat to dehydrate the herbs. Consider purchasing a home food dehydrator if you have a herb garden and want to dry a significant amount of herbs in the near future. Instructions may be found in the user’s handbook, so make sure you follow them.
There is also the option of drying the basil in an oven, which takes just a few hours. According to recommendations from the University of Illinois Extension, the temperature range of 90 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit is optimal for drying. There are certain ovens that cannot be adjusted to a temperature of this low. In this scenario, adjust the temperature of the oven to its lowest setting and leave the door of the oven slightly ajar.
Growing Basil at Home
In order to ensure that your basil plant produces a enough number of green leaves prior to being harvested and stored, you must first supply it with the appropriate level of care. This is a plant that is very easy to cultivate in either a home garden or in containers. Regardless of whatsoever approach you decide to use, you must ensure that the herb is grown in a location that receives plenty sunlight and has soil that is both healthy and porous. Before moving basil outside and protecting other plants from the cold weather, you should first wait until the threat of frost has gone.
Before transplanting the seedlings, the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service recommends doing a soil test if at all feasible, amending the soil as directed, or using a fertiliser with a nutrient ratio of 5-10-10. This should be done before planting basil in the ground. Two months following the first application of fertiliser, if necessary, side-dress the basil with calcium nitrate. The pale tint of the leaves and the slower rate of plant development are both indicators that the plants could benefit from more fertiliser.
Maintaining the soil’s moisture content will need continuous watering. The moisture in the soil may be preserved with the aid of mulch. It is important to keep the leaves dry since getting them wet might promote sickness.
Wrapping material made of plastic!!-!! Plastic bag
Whether it’s a cup or a dish!!-!! A container for ice cubes!!-!! Tray
Food dehydrator (optional) (optional)
Ice cube tray
Food dehydrator (optional)