Harvesting basil the right way is the key to having a full, healthy basil plant. By following these tips and tricks you will have more basil than you'll know what to do with! When it comes to basil, don't be afraid to snip away. In fact, the more you cut and prune, the more your plant is encouraged to keep producing.
The first sign of knowing that your basil is ready to be harvested is when there are 3-5 sets of leaves on a single stalk or when the stalk is at least 3-4 inches tall. Always harvest your basil starting at the top of the plant and work your way down.
Begin by cutting where the stem meets the stalk, just above the second set of leaves. It is best to snip off a piece of the main stem about ¼ of an inch above the set of side shoots (nodes) that emerge from the stem that are to be left on the plant for new growth. This will allow a new bud to grow from the second set of leaves left behind. For best results, repeat this process every 2-3 weeks.
If you notice your basil plant starting to bud flowers, make sure to prune all the flower buds off before they bloom or it may be the end of the road for your basil plant.
Here is a short video with step by step instructions on how to harvest basil:
- To keep basil fresh for about a week after harvesting, place in a short vase of fresh water and keep out of direct sunlight.
- Freeze fresh leaves by packing them tightly in an airtight container or freezer bag.
- Freeze chopped basil and water or oil together in an ice cube tray for individual future use as sauté cubes or smoothie greens.
- If harvesting the entire basil plant, after completely removing the it from the SeedPod, dry basil by hanging stems upside down in bunches. Once the leaves are dry (about a week), crumble them into an airtight container and store.