If you have basil growing in your garden or in a pot in your kitchen window there are a few steps that will keep it growing productively until the first frost. It is the time of year to cut back your basil plants at least 3 inches to keep them producing the rest of the summer. Once they flower you lose the flavor and the production. So take a pair of scissors and cut away at your basil and make one of these pesto recipes to eat now or freeze cubes of pesto for the winter. Basil is such a wonderful summer herb, don’t let it stop growing. You will need it for these Homemade Pesto and Pesto and Pea Pasta Salad Recipe .
Homemade Pesto and Pesto and Pea Pasta Salad Recipe
Basil likes to be watered frequently but sparingly. Do not over water the plant but a small dose daily or every other day will make a happy plant. Basil also loves the sun, if kept indoors make sure it it near a sunny window. You may notice how it bends toward the sun. Just rotate the pot and it will turn again.
Basil also loves to be pruned. It is an active growing plant that will be coming fuller and more productive if you allow it. When the plant is young, cut it back to the last 2 sets of leaves. This will allow it to grow more branches. Also don’t be afraid to take off large sections of it when you need some for a recipe.
If allowed to grow just tall, it will become too leggy and provide fewer usable leaves.
Once it has matured, give the plant a good cutting once a month. You can use the leaves to make pesto or simply freeze the leaves in a Ziploc bag and use as needed. The leaves will become limp once defrosted so you may just want to use them in sauces.
If I have a large batch of pesto, I fill a ice cube tray with the pesto, freeze and place the cubes in a Ziploc bag for future use. The frozen pesto cubes will last several months in the freezer.
TIP: If you plan on freezing your pesto, do not add the cheese per the recipe until you are ready to serve!!
Make sure to always clip off the flower buds on your plants. Here is an example of one that got away! If you want to collect seeds for next year you can allow the plant to flower in early fall otherwise this will slow up if not cease any further leave production.
Another advantage of pruning is you can place a large cutting in water and you will have a new basil plant in a few weeks.
Here is a great recipe I tried recently when I had to do an initial pruning of my plants. I loved this Ina Garten Recipe for Pesto, Peas and Pasta as my kids like to eat pesto, but this one you add frozen spinach and the kids will never notice. Delicious served room temperature or cold the next day. I halved this recipe as the original serves 12. Also substituted some of the mayo with Greek yogurt.
Also here is my Grandma’s Pesto Recipe.-Can easily be doubled
- 2 cups basil Leaves
- 1/2 cup Parsely
- 5-6 cloves garlic
- 1 tbl Pine nuts
- 1/2 Cup Olive Oil
- Add basil, parsley, garlic and pine nuts in food processor or blender; Add cheese and dribble in oil until the consistency of creamed butter.
Which recipe will you try? Pin this for later!