Monday, June 13, 2011

How To Harvest Basil

With Summer nearly upon us, I thought it would be helpful to repost this very popular post on How to Harvest Basil. It is one of my posts that receive the most hits. Enjoy.


In this post I have a few photos trying to show how I harvest basil. I also have a video explaining the process. This Perfect Pesto recipe is what I use.


I plant tons of basil plants each year because we LOVE Pesto! Pesto Pizza, Pesto Pasta, Pesto Focaccia . . . Oh my!




I have found if I keep the basil plants harvested frequently it keeps them from getting 'leggy' and also from going to seed. I get a drastic reduction in basil if I just let the plant go. Just about every week or as often as I need it, I go through all my plants and pick all the leaves I can.






It might be hard to tell in the picture, but my scissors are just about the snip the stem right at the base of a newer set of leaves. Can you see them?



It is so easy to do. Find a 'leaf cluster' and follow the stem down. You are looking for where the leaves branch out and are starting a whole other set of leaves. I try to go as far down the plant as I can to keep it stocky and bushy. Don't ever clip the stem where there is no other set of new leaves, it will stop producing. Your goal is bushy with lots of new leaf sets growing.


Here is another shot of the base of the stem with the new leaves on either side.





Have you discovered the delightful taste of basil? Do you grow basil? What do you use it for?


21 comments:

Farmgirl Cyn said...

Well, shut the front door! I had no idea that is how you harvest basil! I read this, went out with scissors and my large colander, and cut, cut, cut! I have so much basil on the counter right now, I have to get busy! And just think, there's more to come!

Cathy said...

Always fun to meet a "fellow pesto lover" lol!!! Your recipe sounds a lot like mine :)
For more ideas, you can read my post here:
http://fromcathywithlove.blogspot.com/2008/07/basil-parsley-pesto.html
Happy harvesting!
Hugz,
Cathy♥♥

Kia said...

Well, well, well. Glad this post was first in my list. I'm headed outside to harvest my (overgrown)basil right now. Thanks for the instructions. Last year, I just pinched off leaves as I needed them.This makes much more sense!

Amanda Sikes said...

I was just gifted a very large basil plant and had no idea what to do with it. Thanks for the help!

Alice said...

OK, now quickly tell me how to preserve what I have cut! I've got lots and lots of basil and I want to use it this winter and I'm unable to find a solid preservation tip for this. I'd like to use it in spaghetti sauce and other cooked meals rather than garnishes.

Alice

Michelle (She Looketh Well) said...

Hi Alice,

Well, I make my pesto and freeze it in 2 cup containers (perfect size for my large family), but I have also processed it with a little bit of olive oil and frozen it in ice cube trays to add to soups and dishes in the winter. I have also done the above and frozen it in larger portions to make pesto in the winter. does that help?

Jess said...

Oh my goodness! I needed this more than you could know. We just started growing basil this year and I had no idea how to harvest it properly. I actually did cut it like that a couple times but then felt bad and thought I might be killing the plant, lol. Thanks Michelle

RedHeadedStepChild said...

I saw your comment over at Pioneer Woman and decided to stop by to see your technique. Thanks so much for the info! I never realized it would keep growing if I cut it down that far!

Off to look at your pesto recipe!!!

www.thatredheadedstepchild.com

The Crazy Suburban Mom said...

So funny I happened on your blog this morning - I have a container of basil in the fridge I need to use. I really really dont want to do pesto because of calories. With the oil and nuts and all... Got any other thoughts?

I was thinking maybe of just putting it on a pizza but I don't want it to be like eating leaves....

Tracy

Nance said...

Crazy Suburban Mama . . . dry it. Dry the basil, already! dry it and crumble it on your pizza. I think that would be delish!

Linda Stubbs said...

We also do up our pesto for the winter months. I use little baggies twist them with as much of the air I can get out. Then I put them in quart freezer bags. I fill as many little baggies as I can. We take out as we need them. Love the stuff! Great on our focaccia bread that we make. Then we cut the bread for sandwiches, pile it with veggies and meat and spread pesto on the bread. This is such a fun fast meal. Thank you for teaching us!

Tippytoesfarm said...

I'd like to watch & listen to the video on cutting basil, but cannot hear you over the music on your blog.

Is there any way to turn it off?

Thank you.

Stephanie

Michelle (She Looketh Well) said...

Hi Stephanie, did you by chance have another window open with a different blog? I don't have music on my blog.

Often times I have a ton of windows open and I am frantically trying to find someone's music only to find out it's on another blog!

Let me know if you can get it to work.
Thanks

SWEETHEARTS MOM said...

Farmgirl Cyn is the blog with music. She has a link to your pesto blog. You open in a different window so her music still plays in the background.

paperbird said...

love this- thank you and your blog- so very beautiful.

Tippytoesfarm said...

Michelle -

It was Farmgirl Cyn's music.

Thanks for the basil harvesting tip. I have always had mine go leggy because I was just picking the leaves.

Making pesto for the freezer & Ina Garten's Pasta, Pesto & Peas soon.

Stephanie

tzstt said...

How many ounces do you think you can harvest at maturity?

TheWifeLife said...

We grow basil just to chop it up and put in almost everything. I am excited to try this pesto recipe now.

Cranberry Morning said...

Just wanted you to know how much I appreciated this basil-harvesting tutorial. We have been enjoying basil like crazy this summer!! Thanks so much. At the end of September, or whenever a hard frost threatens, I'm bringing my basil indoors to see if I can winter it over.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing this info. Can't wait to harvest some basil and make pesto asap!

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU! This was SO helpful!!