If you're an enthusiastic home cook you probably have a container of basil growing on your windowsill, ready to liven up your dishes with its aromatic peppery leaves. After all, where would a Caprese salad be without those crowning fresh basil leaves?
But when it comes to harvesting those fresh and fragrant leaves have you been doing it right? For example, did you know that basil enjoys regular harvesting and that there's a right way to pick the leaves to make sure your plant flourishes?
With that in mind, we take a quick look at how to harvest basil to keep your plant-strong which means you can keep cooking strong.
How to Harvest Basil
When to pick basil?
You can pick basil as and when you need it, but the morning time is best, especially if you are harvesting a lot of leaves.
Make sure to pick the leaves regularly to encourage growth throughout the summer.
How to pick basil leaves?
Pick off the tips of each stem - just above a pair of leaves, new shoots will grow from each stem creating a fuller plant. (Picking stems from the base of the plant will encourage tall, lanky plants.)
Pinch off any flowers as they start to grow to help encourage your basil plant to grow more leaves.
Pick a few leaves off each plant, rather than cutting off a whole stem. While you’re picking, periodically pinch off the branch tips, to encourage the plant to fill out.
If you cut too much basil from your plant you can always freeze it.
When you have your fresh cut Basil, you can go to town, making theperfect pesto.
How to plant and grow basil
If you want to put the methods described above into practice and enjoy a bumper crop of basil from your plant, you of course first have to know when and where to plant it and how to nurture it to the point it yields a harvest. Here are a few tips:
If you’re going to plant basil outside, get a head start by planting and sprouting your seeds one or two months before the last frost.
Make sure they are in well-drained soil.
Place them where they will receive lots of sunlight each day (at least six hours). Basil also likes staying warm (above 50°F).
Fertilise monthly, especially if you’re growing your basil indoors.
If you get it all right, you’ll have monster basil plants you can use to make…
Tasty Basil Recipes
On a steaming-hot summer day, slurp down a gelid glass of strawberry lemonade with blackberries, plenty of ice, and, of course, freshly plucked basil leaves. Or, on the opposite end of the taste spectrum, use basil as the pungent and verdant ying to a pulled pork sandwich’s yang.