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Thread: How do you cut fresh basil?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Lakewood WA
    Posts
    159

    How do you cut fresh basil?

    I am tired of paying huge amounts for a few sprigs of basil at the grocery store. At Trader Joes I bought a potted basil plant for just a little more than the individual packages I have been buying. Now I am wondering if you just cut the leaves off at the base of the leaf or if there is a way of cutting that encourages more growth. The plant is so pretty and full of leaves I really don't want to kill it. Also, is there a way to preserve leaves for later use? Thanks for any help you can give.
    The difference between what I am and what I want to be is what I do.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Location
    Kitsap County, WA, USA
    Posts
    570
    I love growing basil every year. This year I even started plants from seed. You'll enjoy it. I usually just cut from the stalk so the plants get bushier. My husband, however, goes out and snips off individual leaves. I don't think you can hurt it. You can hang the branches upside down to dry the leaves for later use, or you can freeze them. If you freeze them, the flavor remains, but the leaves do discolor.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Indianapolis, IN
    Posts
    1,766
    I always just pinch the leaves off and i have been told (and i follow this "rule" with great success) that if you pinch the top leaves off (in the center of the plant) then that will promote growth. So i take from the top/middle then if i need more, just pinch off whatever else i need from around the plant. You won't kill it by taking the leaves, just helps it grow more! And there was a thread a while back about preserving them--several of us just freeze the leaves after washing them--i used to blanch them first b/c i heard it preserved color, but others say that is not necessary, so now i just freeze them. I know several others use their Foodsaver to vacuum seal the leaves before freezing. Hope this helps and others chime in too! Enjoy your basil! (and you are right--it is so much cheaper to buy a little plant than to keep buying it everytime you need it!)

  4. #4
    I was also told that if the plant starts growing flowers on the top, break those off as that'll promote growth, too. I just broke off some of the flowers from my plants yesterday. We'll see what happens.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Virginia Beach, VA, USA
    Posts
    711
    A woman who runs a herb farm told me that it actually helps the plant to cut it back, I guess makes it bushier. I try to cut off the flowers as soon as I see them, but this time of year they are growing much too fast for me to keep up with that chore. Usually what I do is cut branches, wash them, use what I need and put the rest of the branches in a vase. That way it is convenient to use and looks pretty too. I also washed large amounts of leaves, let them dry and freeze in freezer bags. The basil quality is much superior to any dried version I've ever had and is great for cold weather cooking.
    Mary Ann

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    Location
    Madison, WI USA
    Posts
    7,851
    It is really hard to kill a basil plant. It's beautiful and smells good on my front step. If you have good success, next summer you can branch out to other herbs. You'll save a ton of money.

    I've never had good luck freezing basil leaves. They're always mushy and soggy no matter how hard I try to get the air out of the zip loc bag. Oh well. I'm ok w/dried basil in the winter.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Virginia Beach, VA, USA
    Posts
    711
    Yeah, the frozen leaves do get mushy, but, to me anyway, they taste and smell pretty fresh. I find that leaves more or less disintegrate when they are cooked.
    Mary Ann

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Pittsburgh
    Posts
    71

    Lightbulb cutting herbs

    I have successfully been growing basil for years. What I've found works the best is trimming the herb off of the top after the plant has grown about 4 inches. This way, the plant branches out, is fuller and gives you a better crop. Great to use in pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, pesto or bruschetta.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Nevada
    Posts
    156
    With my brown thumb I think I found a way to almost kill off my Basil. This was my first year of trying to grow herbs and I was doing great, even had cilantro going. I had both regular and lemon basil in pots on my front porch. They were all nice and dark green, then I went on vacation for a week, left my 18 y/o niece in charge of watering my plants and when I got back all my herbs were wilted, yellow and my rhododendrums curled up. She claims she came over 2 or 3 times. We did have a real "hot spell" the last 2 days we were gone. As of today I no longer have my cilantro or parsley and my basil is now a light green :mad: I really did enjoy the fresh herbs and look forward to planting more again next year. I may just hire the 5 y/o next door to water them next time I vacation, I have a feeling they will still be alive when I get back.

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