Saturday, August 23, 2008

Basil - Did you know this???

Basil

Today's herby entry does not contain a recipe. Rather, it contains two things that I recently discovered about basil. The fact that I recently discovered them makes me very saddened, disappointed and disillusioned in myself. Basil is one of my favorite herbs. Well, actually it is tied for first place with cilantro. So, the fact that I just recently learned two very important things about my top favorite herb, two things that will greatly enhance my enjoyment of basil, is kind of sad. And if you already knew these things, please act surprised. It will help me with my self-esteem issues.

One...in the latest issue of Fine Gardening, there is an article on harvesting herbs. Being an avid herb harvester myself, I thought I knew pretty much everything there was to know. Nope. It says to harvest your basil once a month during the growing season. Once a month! Cut it back to it's two bottom set of leaves! I just snip on as-needed basis through the summer, and then right before school starts I do one big harvest. I had no idea that I should have been harvesting regularly. No idea. You picked a fine time to tell me this, Fine Gardening! Why couldn't you have mentioned this..oh say...back in May..when it would have been more useful??

Basil Roots

Second..basil roots like nobody's business!! I've read the hints and tips about storing your basil in a glass on your counter, rather than in the refrigerator. But I never listened. When my CSA started including a few sprigs of basil with my veggies, I put it in a plastic bag in my refrigerator, only to find it several days later, an evil, limp, black mass. So, my last sprig, I sat, dutifully, on my kitchen windowsill in an old tupperware cup. One week later, my basil had rooted like crazy. Look at that picture, that is after only one week! Now, just imagine...if you combine this tip with my first tip, and rooted a few of your harvested sprigs and planted them back in your garden, by the end of the growing season, you could have a mass of basil. If I had known this back in the spring, I could be awash in basil plants right now!!!

WHB

These two bits of basil wisdom will be my entry for this week's Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by Srivalli at Cooking 4 All Seasons.

13 comments:

Alicia said...

Back in the day when I bought herbs from the store, I kept them loose in a mug of water on the counter, and it would keep a lot longer than in the fridge.

I didn't know that about harvesting it. I do like you do, snip as needed, and it still flourishes and fills out.

Marjie said...

You could send me one of your newly rooted plants, if you had too many! Amazing the things we discover by accident! And, yes, WHY didn't they tell you and everyone else about harvesting throughout the growing season at the BEGINNING of the growing season?

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

Basil is may absolute, all time, bigger than anything, fav-o-rite herb. I didn't know that I sould be cutting mine back that much. Here I go!

redforever said...

And when I took a Thai cooking class, I also learned this about basil and cilantro.

They are delicate herbs. If you add the fresh herb early on in the cooking process, they lose their taste and can even turn bitter. And that is why with most Asian recipes, you find that they ask you to add the basil or cilantro just a few minutes before serving. And they also ask you to sprinkle on the fresh chopped herbs as condiments. That way you get maximum flavor from the addition of that herb.

Also, the instructor told us he always keeps his cilantro this way and he said he gets almost 2 weeks out of it before it turns to mush.

Lay the fresh cilantro in a flattish rectangular container that has a lid. Then put in a raw egg, shell on of course!!! Cover and refrigerate. He said the egg slowly turns green and he never eats it at the end, just chucks it, but he said the shell of the egg absorbs any extra moisture and that keeps the cilantro fresh.

Kalyn said...

I did know about harvesting the basil regularly, and always do that every summer. But I did not know that basil would grow roots like that! I might try rooting some at the end of the season here and see if I can keep it alive inside for at least the first part of winter. (Maybe too cold even in the house, but it sounds like a fun experiment!

Srivalli said...

That really sounds great!..thanks for the details Pam..

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Both great tips -- and, like you, I learned these things by trial and error (lots of error!).

noble pig said...

When I had basil growing I always snipped as needed too. I had no idea. Maybe that's why it died?

Grace said...

add this to the list of reasons i'm not even gonna attempt becoming an herb gardener--i know nothing. good for you for educating yourself, and thanks for sharing what you learned with us! :)

Valentina said...

No way. I am running to my kitchen to get the basil out of the fridge bag. Loved your post.

gotnomilk said...

I didn't know that either!

Your photos are marvelous!

[eatingclub] vancouver || js said...

I didn't know! My goodness, the last tip could have saved me a ton of heartache too. I've always had to throw out blackened basil.

suburban prep said...

Good to Know. My husband and I have a great Basil plant. We love it as well.