Among the aromatic herbs, basil is among the most popular. With its unmistakable scent, it is suitable for flavoring sauces, flavoring salads and main courses, and, of course, for preparing the famous Genoese pesto.
In summer, fresh and freshly picked basil gives its best. If you grow it on the terrace or balcony, in order not to ruin the plant, however, you will have to respect some simple rules. Starting with ‘how to harvest basil. The right exposure to the sun and regular watering are essential, but to have a green and lush plant, the basil harvest must be done correctly. So, how to harvest basil? Simple: by cutting the parts that are higher up. That is: topping it.
Later we will explain why together with the steps of the operation.
When to harvest basil
When to harvest basil? If you have bought a beautiful and ready-made seedling at the supermarket or if you have sown it, it is important to have a little patience before starting the basil harvest . The best thing is to wait for the plant to reach at least 12/15 centimeters in height before starting to detach the leaves. The idea is that they do not exceed about 20 centimeters in height. And if, perhaps with the help of a ruler, you see that it is growing too much, prune it.
How to harvest basil: a guide to recommended steps
To have a healthy plant with beautiful green and fragrant leaves, it is essential to know how to harvest basil. Here are the precautions to take into account.
- As soon as the plant has reached the right height, the leaves can be harvested. To do a good job, you have to gently detach (or cut) the leaves by taking them from different points to make them grow more robust and with nice dense foliage.
- Sometimes it is mistakenly thought that in order not to damage the plant, it is necessary to collect the largest leaves and let How to harvest basil: recommended steps – Riciblogthe smallest ones grow. Wrong! If we pluck them low, the plant will weaken.
- To harvest the basil correctly, you need to remove the leaves (or twigs) at the top. This prevents the plant from flowering and producing seeds. Although the flowers are also edible, they block the growth of new leaves because all the energy is channeled into the production of the seeds. Therefore it is necessary to often trim the seedling.
- The leaves can be gently peeled off with your hands or cut with scissors. The important thing is to take them at the base and as close as possible to the nodes of the stems, being careful not to damage the stems by fraying them if you use your hands. If the leaves are harvested correctly, the stem will fork and new shoots will emerge, making the plant more and more luxuriant and with rich foliage.
- How to cut basil with scissors or shears? It is enough to cut the stem with an inclination of about 45 °. The oblique cut prevents water from watering or rain from depositing on the cut branch for too long, favoring attacks by parasites and the formation of infections or diseases.
How to store freshly picked basil
Once harvested or bought, the question arises of how to best preserve basil.
To keep it fresh for a few days
Put the bunch in a glass jar with water and keep it in a cool, dry place. The water must be changed approximately every one / two days.
How to store basil in the fridge: remove the leaves and rinse them under water. Put them on a cloth, dabbing them gently. Arrange the leaves on kitchen paper and roll them up without crushing them. Put the roll in an airtight bag and keep it in the fridge for a few days.
Basil in oil
Do you know how to preserve basil in oil? Cut the leaves, wash them without creasing them and let them air dry. In a sterilized glass jar pour a base of olive oil, and add a layer of leaves and a pinch of salt. Repeat the operation, alternating leaves, and salt, until there is no more space. Press them gently and fill them with oil to the brim. Let it rest for a few hours. The oil will settle in all the spaces and if you need more, add it. Close the jar and keep it in the fridge. You will also get a flavored oil.
How to keep it for a long time
Finally, let’s see how to preserve basil in the winter or rather how to keep basil in the freezer. In a bowl, put cold water and a good number of ice cubes. Rinse the leaves and blanch them for a couple of seconds, drain and pour them into the bowl of ice water. As soon as they are cold, let them dry on a cloth without overlapping them. Cut out pieces of parchment paper that are large enough to fit into a kitchen bag. Arrange the leaves well apart on a piece of baking paper. Repeat alternating the paper with a layer of leaves. Put the layers in the bag, seal tightly, and put them in the freezer. The basil will keep for 5/6 months.
Here are some tips to avoid wasting them
Basil stems are excellent for flavoring sauces and sauces, even more than the leaves. If you plan to prepare a sauce, put them in a pot raw, whole, or chopped, together with the onion, once the onion is golden, remove the stems and add the tomato. The stems will be gone but the basil aroma will make your sauce even more delicious.How to use basil stalks in recipes – Riciblog recipes
Did you know that a new plant can be reproduced with a basil stem? Just detach a sprig a few centimeters long and put it in a glass of water, remembering to change it often. You will see that roots will sprout within a couple of weeks. Your cutting is ready to be planted.
Another way to recycle basil stems is to use them to garnish first or second courses. Wash them well under water, let them dry, and with a sharp knife cut them into small pieces. Use them raw to garnish your recipes but also to perfume them.