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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Proper Way of Harvesting Basil

After a month, my basil is now fully established.  I wanted to cook linguine in creamy mushroom and basil sauce, so instead of buying fresh basil (or using the one in the green bottle), I decided to harvest my basil.  Now, harvesting is not as simple as picking off a leaf here and there.  There is a technique in harvesting basil, which is pretty much very important if you love your herb.  Improper harvesting will result to a weaker plant which will not reproduce the same way as it did on your “first” harvest.

I harvested the plant the same way I prepared cuttings for propagation.  The stems are cut with a sharp knife for I will also use the stems to promote rooting.  You can also pinch off the stems with your fingers or with the use of sharp kitchen scissors if you do not plan on propagating your herb.  


Harvesting basil must be done by cutting the stem three nodes down, starting from the very tip of the branch.  The node is where the leaf and the branch meet.   The picture will give you a good idea where the node is going to be, and where to cut.  I removed the big leaves and left the small leaves at the very top.  


Unlike basil bought in supermarkets, I only needed a small amount of leaves to flavor my dish.  Good things come to those who wait before harvesting basil.

Note: this tip for harvesting basil can also be employed when pinching off branches to encourage bushier growth, and never harvest more than a third of the plant.


Now if you have a lot of basil plants, and even just three of them, you will be surprised at the amount of basil you can harvest from your established herbs. If you want a look on how much basil you can get, see the recipe video below from Chef Pasquale as he shows how he harvested basil from his very own garden to make his pesto sauce.

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