I picked up a couple of basil plants on clearance at Walmart yesterday. Although they are a bit scraggly, I couldn't resist the price tag of $1.00. With a good trim and a little care, these plants will produce enough basil for my needs all summer. There must have been a reason why I forgot to purchase basil earlier this year!
How to Prune Basil
Basil Flavored Oil
I haven't decided how I'm going to use the cuttings from the plants yet. I'm thinking of steeping the leaves in extra virgin olive oil to make flavored oil for cooking - but when its made with fresh herbs, the oil must be refrigerated and used within a few days. Fresh herbs in oil can pose the risk of botulism if stored longer than a few days. For long-lasting oils, herbs must be dried thoroughly before adding them to oil. You can learn more about making herbed oils in my article How to Make Herbed Oils.
Herbed Butter with Basil
Another option, of course, is to make a simple herbed butter for use on french bread or to flavor pasta. This can be made from freshly chopped herbs - in this case basil - blended into softened butter or margarine. I like to add minced garlic, too, but that is up to you. Once the mixture is complete, it can be frozen safely for winter use.
Freezing Fresh Basil
Of course, I could simply chop the basil leaves and put them in ice cube trays filled with a little water. Once they are frozen, pop the cubes free of the tray and place them in a zip lock bag and keep them frozen. When you want the rich flavor of basil in your favorite recipe, simply drop a cube into the sauce and let it melt.
Planting in the Rain
It looks like I'll be planting in the rain today - but that's not necessarily a bad thing. My new basil plants will get the water they need to get them off to a good start and I'll get some fresh basil, as well. Luckily, I'll be tucking these plants into a raised bed and don't need to worry about compacting the soil from stepping in the garden.
If you haven't planted basil yet, its not too late. This fast-growing herb will have plenty of time to mature in your garden this summer.
Until Next Time . . . HAPPY GARDENING!