Penultimate Basil Harvest

basil harvest

This basil was planted sometime in late October or early November from seeds straight into the ground. We’ve been eating constantly from it since early December and have had enough to give away whole plants. Basil is, hands down, my garden success story.

Unfortunately, all the info I can glean tells me that basil dies off in May. We’ve had some unusually cold weather (nights mainly) in May this year and my basil is starting to get some ugly brown spots on it. I’m not sure if it is weather related, but anyway I’ve decided it’s time to harvest the final crop. Well, with a slight exception. A bush still thrives in the herb bed near the back door and I’ll leave that for fresh basil as long as it’s game to provide it. Also, I cut this basil from the plants leaving the plants in situ on the off-chance one or two shoots keep going. We’ll see.

The basil’s now been blended with bit of lemon juice (to help stop it from browning) and then put in the freezer in an ice tray so I can defrost and mix with olive oil, garlic, parmesan cheese, salt and pine nuts to make pesto through as much of the winter as I can. I’ll plant another batch in early spring so I’m hoping I won’t have much time without basil – it’s one of our favourite herbs.

basil for freezing


Update 8/6/2011: A couple of days ago we popped one of these cubes out of the freezer tray. It was a bit difficult to twist the tray to pop (okay, I had to get Frank to do it) but the results were perfect. We threw the frozen cube into the pan of sizzling onions and immediately the smell of freshly cut basil filled the room. It was impossible to spot the difference between this and fresh basil in the finished meal.


About Laura Rittenhouse

I'm an American-Australian author, gardener and traveller. Go to my writing website: for more. If you're trying to find my gardening blog, it's here.
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4 Responses to Penultimate Basil Harvest

  1. Imogheena says:

    My sister and brother accidentally broke a packet of basil seeds on our front garden when I was in New Zealand. I came back to a veritable forest of the stuff. They said to me “We decided the collective noun for basil is an “embarrassment” of basil. I think they might be right.

    So does the freezer trick really work then? I have heard of it but never tried it. Did you blend it in the blender or just chop it up a bit then put some lemon juice in with it?

    • “embarrassment of basil” I love it. What a delightful mistake to make. I hope you didn’t mow it all down.

      As for the success or failure of my freezer experiment, I don’t know yet. I haven’t used any (still some fresh stuff in the garden). I’m pretty confident though since I’ve had success with making a full pesto (complete with oil, chese and pine nuts) and frozen that – it worked fine. For this experiment I blended the basil leaves (not in the blender, I have a chopper thingy but the blender would work as would a good, sharp knife) and then mixed in lemon juice. I left out the oil thinking it would freeze harder without it. I’ve just checked and the blocks are frozen solid and bright green.

  2. Wonderful ideas. Love it and love basil. 🙂

  3. Pingback: Bountiful Basil | Laura Rittenhouse's Gardening Journal

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