Creative Vegetable Gardeners: The Best Ways to Preserve Your Summer Basil Harvest

Garden

Harvesting basil in the garden

The best way to preserve basil in your summer garden is to have plenty of basil available in your kitchen through the seasons.

Basil is one of the most popular herbs grown by gardeners everywhere. Even people without a yard can find basil in pots on their patios and verandas. And what not to love about it?

The scent of basil is the scent of summer and this beloved herb goes great with other summer vegetables such as caprese salads, pesto pasta with fresh vegetables and happy hour drinks with basil.

There are so many basil plants that you can grow more than you can use fresh in your favorite recipes. Fortunately, there are many other ways to preserve fresh basil in your garden, so even at the end of the season and when the basil dies with the first frosts of the fall, you will still have plenty of basil left for use in the off-season.

Harvesting purple and green basil in the garden

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How to grow basil

Although this article focuses on how to preserve basil, the first step is to actually plant and grow it successfully in your garden.

Basil is easy to grow and continues to produce leaves and stems for several months into early summer, and there are many unique varieties.

Learn how to grow basil, your favorite varieties, and techniques for keeping your plants healthy and yielding high yields in this companion article with tips on growing basil.

Harvesting Basil for Preservation

Harvesting Basil in the Garden

One of the best ways to grow basil is to keep it from blooming. The way to encourage plants to keep growing new basil stems and leaves is to keep harvesting!

When harvesting, take a closer look at the plant and make a cut just above the spot with two small leaves.

Leaving these leaves in place can grow two more stems that can be harvested in a matter of weeks. If you always cut at this point, you can cut the basil plant pretty aggressively.

How to Harvest Basil

Make sure there are enough leaves left for the plant to photosynthesize. Sometimes I go out and harvest just a few stalks and use them in my recipes, but if I want to make pesto or other frozen sauces, I’ll go around the whole field and harvest as many as I can.

To harvest, you can use ordinary household scissors. I protect this clipperand these harvest scissors Next to the kitchen door for a quick mission to the garden while I cook dinner.

Making Basil Pesto

How to Preserve Basil Quickly and Easily

Now that you have successfully grown basil and have a clear idea of ​​how and when to harvest it, let’s take a look at the different options on how to preserve fresh basil. Let’s go through the details of each method and share some of my favorites.

keep fresh
Basil does not like cold temperatures, so it is best not to store it in the refrigerator if possible. I like to keep it in the garden until just before use.

If you need to keep it for a while, it’s a good idea to store it on the counter in a jar of water. If desired, you can cover it with a plastic bag.

dried
Dried basil doesn’t have much taste or smell. This is not the method I recommend for preserving fresh basil.

freezing
Freezing basil is a much better option. The final product is tastier and closer to fresh basil. In other words, frozen basil retains more flavor than dried, but it’s still not the same as using fresh.

You’ll want to use it in your cooked recipes instead of using it as a finely chopped garnish, like fresh basil from your garden or store. There are two ways to freeze fresh basil leaves.

Option #1: Whole Leaves
If you’re short on time and energy, you can freeze basil leaves in the freezer. freezer bag. Remove the leaves from the stems and place them in a bag. Basil won’t retain its bright green this way, so it’s a good idea to use it in dishes like soups and casseroles.

frozen basil on ice cubes

Option #2: Basil Ice Cubes
The second option is a bit more labor intensive, but if you like the idea of ​​having a lot of basil to keep or cubes to put in your recipe, it’s a great option.

There are two ways to make basil ice cubes. One way (pictured above) is to use scissors to cut the basil into strips. Place the strips on an ice cube tray and then pour water or oil to fill the cells. When completely frozen, transfer to a container of your choice.

Another way to freeze basil ice cubes is to use basil leaves. food processor With enough water or oil to make a thick paste. Once the basil and oil or water are well mixed, fill an ice cube tray with the slurry and freeze. When completely frozen, transfer to a container of your choice.

you can use frozen bagwide-mouthed glass quart or pint jars, or freezer-safe containers of any kind. I’m not a big fan of plastic, so I use glass whenever possible.

Depending on how you plan to use the basil cubes, in most cases you can serve them whole on a plate without thawing.

Freezing Basil Pesto

My Favorite Basil Preservation Method

I and my husband someday we sauce. We’re all about the sauce here! We tend to eat one meal because it is easy and delicious.

They usually consist of a sauce such as rice, quinoa or pasta mixed with seasonal vegetables roasted or roasted in our garden on a base and topped with everything.

And I’ve found it to be much more efficient and cheaper to make more of each recipe during peak harvesting season for the different herbs in each sauce, rather than making them one at a time when you need them.

By August of each year, 12 basil plants are usually scooping out far more basil than I can use fresh. So I fill large baskets with as many basil as I can harvest and spend hours in the kitchen making my favorite sauce.

Here are my top picks.

pesto
Perhaps the most popular way to preserve basil is pesto. I start with the recipe below and then mix in other herbs like parsley, coriander, chives and kale! Start with a basic recipe, then experiment. I also skip cheese most of the time.

Megan Base Pesto Recipe

3 cups fresh wrapped basil leaves

4 cloves of garlic

1/3 cup walnuts (or sunflower seeds or nuggets or hemp seeds)

1/3 cup olive oil (or sunflower or canola)

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese (optional)

Add cilantro, parsley, onion chives, kale or anything else that can enhance the taste!

put everything in food processor Mix until desired consistency.

I freeze pesto. half or full pint Remove the vial and store in the chest freezer for up to 1 year. Although they never make it that long!

Basil Herb Sauce

herbal sauce
A year-round dinner staple, the aforementioned vegetable bowl wouldn’t be complete without a delicious sauce on top. Nothing brightens up an evening like a vibrant green summer sauce in the middle of winter!

These are my top picks.

Chimichuri in blender girl

Easy Green Goddess Dressing From Cookies and Kate

Miso Herb Sauce At Sprouted Kitchen – we love our tacos at home because they can top up all kinds of toppings quickly and easily. These tacos feature shiitake mushrooms and French green lentils topped with Asian taco sauce. It may sound like an odd combination of ingredients when you read the recipe, but trust me. It works!

Basil Pesto Vinaigrette From Cookies and Kate

I make all these recipes in bulk and pour them out. half or full pint Store in a glass bottle and store in the freezer.

Other ideas for conservation
My favorite way to preserve basil is to make pesto and sauce. But if you want to get creative in your kitchen, there are plenty of other ways to preserve basil, some of which will make amazing gifts for friends and family.

basil salt

basil vinegar

basil butter

basil oil

Find recipes on Google or Pinterest. There are many!

Successfully mastering the art of growing basil will yield a large harvest for timely preservation.

The extra effort to preserve the basil may be worth it. Because you’ll be covering up this lively summer flavor that will delight cooking during the winter and make you plan to plant more basil plants next season.

woman harvesting herbs in the garden

Additional Resources for Growing and Using Herbs in Your Garden

Free mini course
my free mini course, Start growing herbs in your garden, a small taste of the master class below. The mini course includes 5 videos and worksheets:

  • Find out why growing herbs is so easy and so worth it!
  • How to choose herbs to grow in your garden.
  • Where to plant herbs so that they can be successful.

Start watching here.

master class
my method video series, All About Gardening with Herbs: A Guide to Growing, Harvesting, Cooking and Preserving Herbs, the most popular class! Are you ready to dive deeper into the amazing world of growing your own herbs? Learn more here.

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