Basil has got to be one of my absolute favorite herbs. The scent which is difficult to describe is something I enjoy in the kitchen for Italian seasoning.
The flavor is strong and a little bit goes a long way.
However this doesn’t stop me from doubling up when including in homemade sauce, salad, or sprinkled over grilled salmon or chicken.
Today I want to share how you can dry your own, collect the seeds, and enjoy the many health benefits along the way. Let’s see if basil is something you may want to grow in the future.
If you already grow basil then the look of this bush is probably familiar.
This was a volunteer, which means a seed was left behind that took root. Notice to the right I have another bush; they both need to be clipped for drying and normally I do this before they flower but these plants got ahead of me.
Clipping to Dry
When to clip basil depends on the gardener. I’ve read if you wait for the plant to flower and go to seed it will taste bitter. I haven’t run into this, I’m a believer that what you put into the soil is what benefits the flavor of what we grow to eat.
Basil grows fast; when a tip blooms I normally just leave it alone because seeds will follow weeks later. Keeping the plant from going to seed can be difficult so I do my best to cut stems from the base when I’m using them in the kitchen right away.
When I clip stems to dry stems I also cut stems from the base. If the season is ending and we’re approaching that first frost I will actually pull the whole plant from the ground.
- The next step is to wash and damp dry before prepping to air dry.
- I gather and bunch the stems together tying off with a string.
- Let it hang for about a week indoors to dry.
Remember basil is an annual, this means it will turn brown and die when the first freeze arrives.
Harvesting the Seeds
The seeds are tiny, notice little white specks inside the green husk. This is where the flower bloomed and now the seed is maturing waiting to be harvested.
Don’t let the stem turn completely brown, those seeds will fall into your soil and come up as volunteers the following season. This can be a neat surprise but can also add a little chaos to your planting space.
One you gather all the seeds let them air dry before storing then place seeds in envelopes.
Basil seeds are a bit tedious, you’ll need a set of patience and don’t get discouraged if you’re not able to gather every single seed.
When Basil Dries
After the basil is dry remove the leaves from each stem. When dried they don’t look wonderful but it still smell amazing. I like to crunch in small pieces and use during the winter in a variety of meals.
They also make a wonderful gift placed in a clear jar for family and friends, look at these basil jars.
Harvesting herbs for later use is like adding good health to the pantry, basil goes beyond flavor and for me even beyond my Italian upbringing. Next I want to share why eating basil can add enrichment to your lifestyle.
Why Eat Basil?
Herbs of all types offer many wonderful health benefits, this one is rich in vitamin A, K and C, magnesium, iron, potassium and calcium. Sounds pretty fantastic right? For me I can always tell when I’m eating basil on a regular basis my energy level is up and I just feel better.
Basil also helps reduce inflammation, and swelling. Here’s my favorite, it carries many anti aging properties and it’s very rich in antioxidants. It’s also one of the easiest herbs to grow in your garden.
Add the beauty to your lifestyle and watch your world become a bit brighter. Basil is like the golden ticket and now you can save seeds and dry your own harvest in addition to eating fresh.