So it’s mid-August and your basil has hit a major growth-spurt. It’s churning out leaves like nobody’s business and you’re scratching your head wondering what to do with it all. Added to this is the pressure that if you don’t harvest and eat it, some insect or too much sun will get to it, and your hard work will be ruined. But have no fear, Ecobloom is here and we’ve got just the thing for you to put your precious produce to good use!
But before we get started, let’s cover some basics when it comes to basil maintenance. First of all, it’s very important that you prune/harvest your basil every 1-2 weeks. Not only does this ensure that you pick your basil when it’s at its prime, it also allows new growth to happen. Every place where a stem is cut, two new areas of growth are able to form. This also allows your plant to achieve a fuller shape, instead of being long and gangly. For tips on how to properly harvest your basil, here’s a quick 2 minute video that we like:
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s move on to the fun part! How to use your delicious produce.
- Pesto. Pesto is one of the most versatile sauces there is. It goes great not only with pasta, but also with chicken and fish and even as a salad dressing. Here’s a classic recipe from Bon Appetit that uses about 6 cups of basil.
- Bolognese. There’s nothing more comforting than a hot bowl of spaghetti bolognese, especially as the temperatures start to cool down at the end of summer. Here’s a team-favorite Bolognese recipe from Food Network star Giada De Laurentiis that uses 8 basil leaves (or more if you ask us!).
- Pho Soup with Fresh Basil. We love the freshness basil brings to a hearty cup of Vietnamese Pho soup. You can add as much as you want, so it’s perfect for that leftover sprig or two of basil that you’re not sure what to do with. Here’s an easy and delicious version from The Kitchn.
- Strawberry-Basil Ice Cream. For those times when summer’s still hot, why not sneak in some last-minute ice cream with basil as the secret ingredient?? Bonus: a way to get kids to eat greens (without knowing it). Here’s a yummy version from Food52 which uses a half-cup of basil.
- Basil Simple Syrup. Simple Syrup is a common ingredient in many cocktail and mocktail recipes, and this recipe from Oh My Veggies shows you how to apply a basil twist (using a half-cup of leaves). Get creative with your drinks and enjoy the health benefits of a little added basil.
- Basil Lemonade. Speaking of creative summer drinks, why not spice up a glass of lemonade with a few basil leaves? We’re pretty sure it ups the refreshment factor by at least 100%. If you need some recipe inspiration, check out this one from The Food Charlatan which uses a quarter-cup of basil.
- Basil Tea. Basil is purported to have many health benefits, from improving oral health to supporting the immune system. Make a simple basil tea by simmering a handful of basil leaves for 5-6 minutes or follow this more deluxe Basil Tea recipe from Culinary Ginger which uses 16 basil leaves.
- Dry basil. Dry the basil that you have now in order to be able to use it in the winter, when nothing is growing outside. Check out a quick and easy guide on how to do this from Gardening Know How.
- Make new basil plants. By using the same pruning method as described above, you can use the cuttings that you collect to grow new basil plants. This works great at the beginning of the growing season, or even at the end of the growing season since basil can be grown indoors year-round (albeit even easier in an EcoGarden!).
- Freeze it. When all else fails, freeze that basil for another day. But don’t just throw it in the freezer. Here are some simple steps you can follow to make sure the basil is of optimal condition when it’s time to use it.
Whew, that was a lot of basil information! We hope that you found these tips helpful, and that they encourage you to keep growing basil – whether it be in a pot on your balcony or January in your EcoGarden. Be sure to tag us on Instagram with the hashtag #EGBasil with your own uses for this delicious herb! Happy creating!