Basil

I am so happy today. Getting ready to plant basil. I have 2 dozen little plants which should give me a bountiful harvest all summer and well into fall. Basil is easy to grow if you follow a few simple tips. Basil likes warmth- don’t plant them in the ground until the soil in nice and warm. I am planting mine in containers today. Its probably too cold to put them in the ground yet. They also like plenty of sun. Full sun is considered at least 6-8 hours of sunshine every day. Before you plant basil make sure it will get plenty of sun. While you can use the flowers to flavor vinegar you really don’t want basil to flower too soon. Make sure it is in rich soil. Using some fertilizer will help the basil to grow lots of leaves. Basil is an annual- once it starts to flower it will produce fewer leaves and will not get as big. Baby it a little. Give it what it wants and basil will reap huge rewards.

Harvest throughout the season but try not to take more than about a third of the leaves off the plant at any one time.  This will be less stressful to the plants. Basil is tender so you can just chop it as use it fresh in salads.

If you want to preserve some for later use freezing works well. Air- drying basil will produce a sub-par product. Basil turns black when air-dried and should only be dried in a dehydrator. To freeze basil just place cleaned leaves in a blender or food processor. With the machine running pour in enough olive oil to form a mixture that is just barely thin enough to pour- don’t add to much oil. Pour or spoon the mixture into ice cube trays and freeze. Olive oil freezes solid so once the mix has frozen you can pop them out , put them in a freezer bag and put back in the freezer. Now you’ll have little cubes to take out and use whenever you want pesto or just a nice addition to a pasta sauce or salad dressing.