Basil is a leafy, fragrant annual with a bushy appearance. The most common type of basil is sweet basil; other types include purple basil (less sweet than common basil), Lemon basil (lemon flavor), and Thai basil (licorice flavor). Basil is easy to grow and works well in Italian dishes..
- Remember to pinch out the flower heads as soon as they appear to make sure that the leaves will continue growing.
- Tomatoes make great neighbors for basil plants in the garden.
WIT & WISDOM
Where salt is good, so is basil. –Italian saying
- After the seedlings have their first six leaves, prune to above the second set.
- Every time a branch has six to eight leaves, repeat pruning the branches back to their first set of leaves.
- The best time to harvest is right when the plant starts to bud (before the flowers bloom).
- Basil is most pungent when it is fresh.
- If pruned regularly, twelve basil plants will produce 4 to 6 cups of leaves per week.
- The best method for storing basil is freezing. Freezing will prevent the plant from losing any of its flavor. To quick-freeze basil, dry whole sprigs of basil and package them in airtight plastic bags.
- Another storage method is drying the basil (although some of the flavor will be lost). Pinch off the leaves at the stem and place them in a well-ventilated and shady area. After 3 to 4 days, if the plants are not completely dry, place them in the oven on the lowest heat setting with the door slightly open. Remember to turn the leaves (for equal drying) and check them frequently.