I don’t want my basil to die. I love basil. Fresh basil leaves go into pasta, salads, and sandwiches. I want to enjoy this herb all year long. However, almost all basil is an annual herb that is going to flower and die. It also has trouble making it through winter. African Blue Basil is a perennial basil that makes it through winter in warmer climates. There are over 20 different types of basil for cooking, and you can find them here. If you love basil as much as me, below are three tips to help you enjoy basil all winter long.
Freeze Basil For The Winter
Freezer bags, olive oil, and basil are all you need for a simple way to store basil for the winter. Place about 3 cups of basil in the freezer bag and drizzle with a tablespoon of oil. Try to get some oil on all the leaves. Add another bunch of basil to the bag, drizzle with more oil and then squeeze the air out of the bag and freeze. When you need basil in the winter, you can just break a little off in the bag and you will be ready to go. Perfect for soups all winter long.
Many basil lovers like to chop basil, mix it with a little oil and freeze it in ice cube trays. What is funny about this is not too many people have ice cube trays anymore.
Dry Basil For The Winter
There is still plenty of time to air dry your basil. Drying takes only about a week. Merely harvest the basil mid-morning. Remove the leaves from the stems. Wash the leaves and dry them with a paper towel. Then gather them in bunches and wrap the stems with a twist tie. Hang them upside down for a week or two and then break the leaves off the stems into an airtight container and you will have dried basil for the winter. Basil lasts this way for about a year.
Bring Your Plants Indoors For The Winter
Basil plants start getting black spots on their leaves when the temperature at night starts dropping below 50 degrees F. Basil plants also require six to eight hours of sun. Basil grows indoors satisfactorily under standard fluorescent lamps, and exceptionally well under high output fluorescent grow lights, compact fluorescent, or high-intensity discharge (metal halide or high-pressure sodium) plant growing lights.
Keep standard fluorescent lamps between 2 and 4 inches from the tops of the plants, high output and compact fluorescents approximately one foot above the plants, and HID lights between 2 and 4 feet above the plants, depending on wattage. You should start by running your lights for 14 hours per day.
You can easily enjoy basil all winter long using one of these three methods or maybe try all three and see which one works best for your level of effort and love of basil. Either way, there is no reason to sit inside all winter dreaming about spring and your next taste of basil.
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