How to Care for Basil
Here is how to care for your basil, ensuring freshness, flavor and long shelf life.
Basil is a versatile herb that can be used in so many wonderful dishes. Basil can be grown all summer and throughout the fall. It can be used fresh or dried, and the leaves can be frozen for later use. With the proper care and preparation, this ever-renewing crop can flavor your food the entire year.
Fresh stems of basil can last up to a week, if you place the stems in a glass of water and change that water daily. There is no need to worry about placing it near a window. Simply set the glass on the counter, where it will be within easy reach.
Before freezing, you can blanch the basil. This will retain the vibrant color of the leaves. Boil some water and drop the leaves into it for 10-15 seconds. Then quickly submerge the basil in ice water.
To freeze basil leaves, follow the blanching steps above, then allow them to dry completely. Layer the leaves in parchment paper and then place them in a freezer safe container or freezer bag. You can also freeze the leaves in ice cube trays, which makes adding basil to soups and sauces only a matter of popping out a cube or two.
Basil will grow well in a pot in your kitchen as long as it has a sunny window. If your basil plant can’t get six or more hours of natural light a day, consider supplementing with a grow light.
Do not use pesticides on your basil plant. If plant mites become a problem, rinse the leaves upside down, under water to remove the pests.
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