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Thread: Help! I just bought a basil plant

  1. #1

    Help! I just bought a basil plant

    I am attempting to grow a basil plant. I was buying basil yesterday and found it was cheaper to buy a plant, and then I can freeze it.

    Any way what is the best way to take care of it and cut it back? How often do I have to cut it? Do you just cut off the leaves or from the stem?

    Help!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Location
    Near Fresno, CA
    Posts
    6,219
    I always pinch off the flower buds to encourage growth lower on the plant. Water when dry, fertilize once a month. They are very easy to grow!

    I pretty much scalped mine about 3 weeks ago and danged if it isn't coming back fuller than it was before.
    *Susan*

    "One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries."

    A.A. Milne

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    Hanover, PA
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    1,992
    Don't let it flower. When it blooms it gets bitter. Mine's been hard to keep up with though, it's been blooming like crazy! They are super easy to grow--good luck.

  4. #4
    Do you have it in a pot or in the ground?

  5. #5
    In a pot! Do I cut off the leaves or the stems?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    Hanover, PA
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    1,992
    I pick off the leaves if I'm just using a few leaves in a recipe. If I'm making pesto, which calls for huge amounts of basil, I cut off whole stems.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Location
    atlanta, ga
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    I always cut off whole stems because that helps its from getting too leggy. Also...does anyone know how to dry it or freeze it?

  8. #8
    I have another question about basil. I am planning on making some pesto sauce today since I just picked the basil this morning.

    How long does homemade pesto sauce stay fresh in the refrigerator. I'd like to serve it on pasta Sunday night.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    Location
    Madison, WI USA
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    7,848
    Good to know about trimming off the flowers!

    I tried freezing basil last year and didn't like it. A lot of others around here swear by it, though. I know that you need to dry the leaves individually so they don't freeze/clump together. Spread them out in a pan or cookie sheet to freeze. Then you can store them together in a single bag, but take them out one at a time. I think mine got too much air in the bag or something, as they were always soggy. And, I didn't find that they had any more flavor than dried. Maybe someone else will have some tips for better freezing.

  10. #10
    A couple of additions, which I hope will be helpful.

    First -- definitely don't just pick the leaves when you're harvesting the basil. Pinch off the tips of each stem, down to a new "set" of leaves. This encourages the plant to bush out and create new growth.

    Secondly -- when you pinch the flowers off, don't just toss them. Use them in your cooking as well. The flowers of most herbs are just as delicious as the leaves -- and can be pretty in salads.

    Thirdly -- To address the whole "freezing" aspect: I generally freeze chopped basil in cubes (using an ice cube tray). Most often, I make a pesto using garlic, basil and olive oil and freeze the mixture. Otherwise I use just a bit of water and freeze it with the basil. These cubes are not as awkward to use as the frozen leaves, and the flavor is preserved more accurately (IMHO).
    It's so beautifully arranged on the plate - you know someone's fingers have been all over it. --Julia Child
    BURP! Where Food Happens

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Location
    atlanta, ga
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    486
    lorelei, thanks for the freezing in ice idea! That sounds like it will work well and I will try it before the first frost this year, of if my basil starts to take over like kudzu. Now, another question...have you ever dried your herbs? Is it as simple as laying them out and letting nature take its course?

  12. #12
    I guess I'll get an ice cube tray and try freezing my pesto. I've never made it before, so I'm kind of excited. I'm trying to decide if I should go for a full fat version or try one of the lower fat pestos made with chicken broth. It seems like a high fat pesto is the way to go since you only use a little bit at a time.

  13. #13
    Originally posted by dixie
    lorelei, thanks for the freezing in ice idea! That sounds like it will work well and I will try it before the first frost this year, of if my basil starts to take over like kudzu. Now, another question...have you ever dried your herbs? Is it as simple as laying them out and letting nature take its course?
    Have never tried my herbs -- partially due to my fear of mildew. Unless you dehydrate the leaves in a dehydrater or follow instructions to dry them in an oven (which I think depletes flavor), there is a chance that the herbs will not dry COMPLETELY. That makes me a bit nervous.


    Clare - You can also freeze pesto in tsps or TBLs on a cookie sheet and then pile them into a freezer bag for later. They stay fairly separate and then you can take out just the amount that you need when you need it.

    Either type of pesto is good -- my preference is always for a "midfat" pesto -- using both a bit of water or broth AND good olive oil.
    It's so beautifully arranged on the plate - you know someone's fingers have been all over it. --Julia Child
    BURP! Where Food Happens

  14. #14
    Good to know about freezing in tablespoons on a cookie sheet. I don't even own an ice cube tray!

    As for the fat, do you think 1/4 cup of olive oil to 2 cups packed basil sounds reasonable?

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    West Puget Sound, WA
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    1,268
    Another thought about freezing pesto: My boss used to make pesto by the big batches (mmmm...) and because of the oil content (full fat version) didn't find that it froze too well in cubes so she chose to freeze it in baggies of a few Tbls per bag and then put a batch of smaller bags into a bigger baggies. These were all zip locks. I don't know why she preffered it this way over cubes - I would think it should've been fine. ?
    I was hoping/planning to grow a basil plant this year and have just not gotten around to it. I keep paying the high price in the store! Good to know it's easy and have the great tips.

  16. #16
    Originally posted by brykate
    Another thought about freezing pesto: My boss used to make pesto by the big batches (mmmm...) and because of the oil content (full fat version) didn't find that it froze too well in cubes so she chose to freeze it in baggies of a few Tbls per bag and then put a batch of smaller bags into a bigger baggies. These were all zip locks. I don't know why she preffered it this way over cubes - I would think it should've been fine. ?
    I was hoping/planning to grow a basil plant this year and have just not gotten around to it. I keep paying the high price in the store! Good to know it's easy and have the great tips.
    Adding a bit of water or pesto to the broth won't distort the quality of the pesto -- but it will help it to freeze more effectively. All oil WILL give you a bit of a challenge...
    It's so beautifully arranged on the plate - you know someone's fingers have been all over it. --Julia Child
    BURP! Where Food Happens

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