Basil is an herb that adds an extra depth of flavor to our food due to its unique aroma and taste. That’s why it is always a must-have for any person growing his own herbs in a garden at home. So, if you are still learning how to grow basil and you have little to no idea about it, you should learn when to harvest basil because that is the end goal of keeping basil in your herb garden, after all.
You can harvest basil the moment the plant already has at least 6 sets of leaves. From then on, you can harvest basil leaves as often as you need. However, we recommend that you harvest basil early in the morning because that is when it is at the height of its freshness, which makes basil so popular.
Different types of dishes can instantly get an enhanced flavor just by adding a bit of basil. That’s why even professional chefs themselves have basil plants in their homes, as they would never know when they would need a few herbs to ramp up the flavor of their dishes. So, if you are a home cook or even just a simple plant enthusiast who wants to grow basil at home, you have to know more about basil well enough so that you can have a near-perpetual supply of this herb at your disposal.
When is the right time to harvest basil?
Different herbs can instantly improve the quality and outcome of your dishes and can be used in a wide variety of ways. Of course, the herbs we are talking about include basil, which is widely considered the most popular herb in the entire world. Basil is even called the King of Herbs because its name literally translates to it and because of how popular it has always been when it comes to its many different applications both in and out of the culinary world.
While we can buy basil leaves in the store, basil is so popular due to its freshness. The same freshness that you can get in its taste and aroma enhances the flavor of your dishes. As such, it is always best for you to use fresh basil leaves as much as possible.
The only way for you to have access to fresh basil leaves is to keep a basil plant at home so that you can easily pick the leaves from the plant whenever you need them. That is why many home cooks and even professional chefs and celebrity cooks keep their own basil plants at home so that they can pick some leaves from the plant in an instant while they are cooking.
So, at this point, you probably know that what you will be harvesting from basil plants are their leaves. But we haven’t tackled when we should be harvesting the leaves from the basil plant. The truth is that timing is everything when it comes to harvesting the leaves from the basil plant, especially when it comes to the first harvest because you would want to make sure that the plant is at the right height and that its leaves are truly ready to be harvested.
In that case, if you had just planted your own basil plant and it is yet to experience its first harvest because it is still too young, you have to wait until the plant is about 6 to 8 inches tall or when it already has enough leaves. The magic number for the leaves is at least 6. If the basil plant already has 6 sets of fully grown leaves, it will be ready to be harvested for the first time.
After you have harvested leaves off the basil plant for the first time, you can now continue to pick leaves off it whenever you need as long as the plant has enough leaves. For example, if you are cooking breakfast and wish to add some fresh basil leaves to your omelets for that extra flavor and freshness, you can pick a few leaves from your basil.
Also, you should harvest basil leaves as early as you can, especially during the morning. Again, basil is popular primarily due to its freshness. However, its aromatic oils are at their freshest during the mornings. That is why you should be picking the leaves first thing in the morning if you want your basil leaves to have the freshest flavor possible.
When to harvest basil seeds?
Harvesting basil seeds is also important if you want to ensure that you have the best kinds of basil in your herb garden. The reason is that basil plants are pollinated by different insects that carry all of the other basil plants in the area. That means that there is a chance that your basil will produce a hybrid that might not be suitable for you.
As such, you must make sure that you isolate your different basil plants from each other to ensure that they don’t pollinate one another. And when it comes to their seeds, they need to be collected carefully, especially if the plants were able to produce seeds when basil of the same cultivar could pollinate it.
To harvest basil seeds, look for the flower heads on the basil plant, cut them out, and let them dry for a couple of days in a warm and dry area. Once that is done, get a colander and crush the head of the flowers on the colander so that you will be able to collect the seeds carefully.
You should harvest basil seeds as soon as possible. The truth is that it doesn’t matter when you collect the seeds so long as they are already ready to be collected. When the flowers on the basil plants have already produced seeds, collect them whenever possible but make sure that you don’t leave them there for too long if you want to cultivate more basil plants in the future.
When to harvest basil for pesto?
Basil is one of the best herbs you can use to make pesto because of how the freshness of the basil adds a depth of flavor to it. And when mixed with other ingredients, the freshness of basil only enhances the flavors of all of the different ingredients mixed with it to make pesto.
So, in that sense, when should you harvest basil if you want to turn the leaves into pesto?
Well, the answer is quite simple. Because you are after the aromatic oils that come from the basil leaves when you are looking to make pesto, you should harvest the basil early in the morning. The reason is the aromatic oils found in basil are at their peak during the morning.
So, if you want to maximize the flavor and oils naturally found in basil to make pesto, make sure to harvest in the morning soon after the sun rises. That way, you can have pesto that has more of that fresh aroma that you can only find in basil leaves.
How to harvest basil?
If you want to harvest basil, it is quite easy. While picking leaves using your hands might be a good idea, it is still better for you to use clean and sharp scissors or small garden shears that will allow you to quickly remove the basil leaves from the plant without stressing it too much. That way, you can make sure that the leaves you picked off stay intact while also ensuring that the basil plant from which you harvested the leaves doesn’t suffer too much damage after you quickly cut the leaves.
How to harvest basil at the end of the season?
Basil season will end just before the winter starts. As such, you need to make sure that you harvest all of the basil leaves from your basil plants right before winter, when the plants will begin to die out due to the cold weather.
So, if you want to harvest the basil leaves at the end of the season, you can simply cut off the stems from the ground in which they are planted. From there, you can peel or cut all of the leaves on the stems and store them properly. You can throw the stems away or use them for a compost pile that you can use as fertilizer for your other herbs later when the season is already right.
Now that you have harvested many basil leaves at the end of the season, you need to make sure that you properly store them. After harvesting them, treat them like any salad greens by washing them and letting them dry. From there, you can wrap them in clean paper towels and then store them in the fridge.
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