The complete guide to growing basil, plus propagating basil, chopping basil & how to freeze basil. Includes tips to get the most out of your basil plants.
Today it’s all about growing basil, plus how to propagate, chop, and freeze this versatile herb. Basil is one of those plants that grows almost anywhere and needs minimal care. It was the very first herb I ever planted, and has been the star of my herb garden ever since. First up are tips for growing basil followed by tips for propagating basil, or growing from cuttings.
Growing Basil In A Pot
Basil is a must-have for any herb garden, and if you are a beginner, it’s the perfect herb to start with. Basil can be grown inside or outside, and requires no special attention. Basil plants are readily available during the growing season, and can be found year round in the produce section of grocery stores.
- Use a large container with good drainage and fertilized potting soil.
- Place the container where it gets at least 6 hours of sunlight per day.
- Water the growing basil regularly so the soil stays moist.
- Basil is a plant that benefits from being “pinched back.” By harvesting the leaves on a regular basis, your plants will grow wide and thick, instead of tall and spindly.
By following these simple tips you will be rewarded with lovely fresh basil leaves for cooking and preserving.
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Once you have mastered growing basil, it’s time to start propagating basil…and it’s actually much easier than it sounds! With your garden scissors in hand, harvest several basil stems, making sure to cut low on the plant. Snip each stem at an angle just under the lowest set of leaf nodes. Trim the leaves so you have a bare stem. Edited: you don’t have to trim the entire stem of basil leaves. It’s perfectly fine to leave some leaves at the top.
Place the snipped basil stems in jars of fresh water. It helps to change the water every few days, but I occasionally forget, and the roots still grow just fine.
Roots will grow out of the stems in about two weeks.
Plant the rooted basil in fresh potting soil and water well.
This is a great way to get extra live and growing basil plants to give as gifts, or to use for an indoor herb garden when the cold weather arrives. My favorite ways to use basil are in pasta sauces, and in the following recipes:
Growing Basil: How to Chop
Chopping basil is simple and quick. Take a look at the video player, and you’ll see how to chiffonade basil in a way that will keep the basil leaves from getting bruised. The secret to chopping basil successfully is to pass the knife through the leaves only once. The up and down of a regular chopping motion will bruise the leaves and turn them dark. By stacking, rolling and slicing the basil leaves, you end up with lovely slivers of fresh, chopped basil.
How to Freeze Basil
If you aren’t growing basil in an indoor garden, harvesting it from a summer outdoor garden, and then preserving, is the next best thing. Freezing basil is a great way to have it on hand for cooking any time of the year.
What you need:
- Ice cube tray
- Olive Oil
- Basil leaves
- Cutting board & sharp knife or scissors
Harvest your basil. Chiffonade or cut with scissors. Fill the sections of an ice cube tray with the sliced basil. When all the bays of your ice cube tray are filled with basil, drizzle olive oil into each bay almost to the rim. Freeze for 8 hours. Pop the frozen olive oil/basil cubes out of the tray and place them in a Ziploc freezer bag. They will last in the freezer for up to 6 months.
By freezing the basil in olive oil, it is so easy to grab a couple of cubes and saute with your favorite vegetables. Use them to make pasta dishes and any sort of pasta sauce. They also make great starters for soups and stews.
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