Learn how to harvest fresh basil for drying!
If basil is the herb that you love most, you might want to consider growing fresh basil yourself and drying it so that it will last through all of the things you want to do with it. Basil is a very popular herb because it goes in more dishes than most people realize. While drying it isn’t a difficult task, you have to know exactly when to harvest it so that it tastes just right once it’s dried. Harvesting basil at the right time is crucial, especially if you wish to dry it afterward, but if you follow a few simple rules, it won’t take you long to get the perfect dried basil leaves in the end.
SEE ALSO: How to Dry Basil Leaves at Home
How to Harvest Fresh Basil
Basil isn’t called the “king of the herbs” for nothing. People cook with basil all the time, and some of the many dishes that go well with basil include tomatoes, strawberries, olive oil, lemon, and vegetables such as eggplant, spaghetti squash, cauliflower, and various lettuce salads. Basil plants are tall and leafy, and once they get up to six inches in height, they should be snipped. In fact, you’ll need to trim them when they’re at least six inches high and no more than eight inches tall in order for them to stay at the right size. In fact, basil plants should remain between six and eight inches tall at all times in order to taste just right.
- When you go to harvest the fresh basil, start with the top of the plant and simply pick the number of leaves that you need. If you start at the bottom of the plant, it simply won’t get as tall or as full as it should, leading to a thinner and smaller plant in the end. When you remove the leaves, you can just pinch them gently at the spot where the leaf meets the stem, but never damage the stem in any way. If you like, you can also use a small pair of scissors to cut the leaves off, but again, be careful that you don’t damage the stems.
- As with other herbs, it’s best to harvest fresh basil at mid-morning after the dew is gone and before the extreme heat comes along. Another advantage to picking your basil at this time of the day is that the essential oils inside of the plant are at the peak of freshness.
- Harvest from the top down always.
- Once the leaves at the top are gone, especially if the plant has already reached eight inches, you can start cutting the stems so that it stays at eight inches and no bigger.
- When you cut the stems to trim the plant, make sure that you leave 2/3 of the plant alone to encourage more growth.
- If you choose not to regularly pinch off the leaves, you should try to pinch back the leaves and any other growth every six weeks so the plant remains bushy and large.
It may seem as if this is a lot of work and a lot to remember, but it really isn’t that difficult. Each of these tasks takes but a small amount of time, and once you get into the habit of pinching and trimming and preparing the basil leaves for drying, you’ll be surprised by how little time it takes and how easy it is to remember to do everything that needs to be done. The important things to remember include trimming from the top, pinching the leaves off without damaging the stems, and making sure that the stems remain between six and eight inches high.
That’s it – this is how easy it is to harvest fresh basil for drying:)