Ten Ways to Use Basil - A Roundup

Basil is the star of my herb garden. It's so easy to grow, it loves our summer heat and grows like crazy. Prune your plants and they will grow bushy and provide lots of flavorful leaves. 

Ten ways to use basil.
Dark Opal Basil

Pinch off the stems with flowers - ideally, you should do this before the flowers appear, before it looks like this - so that you can continue harvesting the leaves through the summer. You want to keep your basil from flowering and going to seed.

Basil with seed pods
Photo by C. Allison, used with permission

You might even end up with too much basil, which is where I've found myself this month. My plants are trying to go to seed and I'm about to let them. If you're in the same boat, here are ten ways you can use up all that basil.

(By the way, none of these are affiliate links. Some links are to my own posts, others are to other blogs or websites that I thought you might enjoy.)

1. Dried Basil - take cuttings, remove the leaves from the stems and dry the leaves. See How to Dry Homegrown Herbs for easy instructions on how to do this. Pack the dried leaves into a jar, or several jars, and crumble them as you need them.

2. Use dried basil in almost everything: sauces, soups, seasoning mixes, and more.

3. You can - and you should - make pesto. I've always used walnuts instead of pine nuts because I just can't find pine nuts out here in rural America.

4. Freeze chopped basil leaves with water in ice cube trays. When you need some basil flavor in a dish, just drop in a couple of cubes.

5. Make basil sorbet - you could add lime or lemon or even strawberries.

Basil is an easy herb to grow.

6. Make a tea of dried basil to calm coughs and colds.

7. Sooth insect bites and stings with a chewed-up leaf of basil, just like you would use plantain.

8. Make spinach and basil noodles. This recipe looks easy!

9. Add basil to your daily green smoothie. This one pairs basil with blackberries.

10. And the obvious, add it to salads, sandwiches, or sliced tomatoes with homemade mozzarella cheese.

Homegrown basil and tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese.

Then let your basil go to seed in the fall. The seeds are easy to collect, they are in little round pods that you can open by rubbing them together in your hands. Keep the little black seeds to plant next spring.

Dark opal basil in bloom.

There are over 40 varieties of basil, so choose your favorite to grow, or grow a basil garden with several varieties. Hobby Farms has a list of ten basil varieties and their best uses, and GRIT offers some tips on growing basil.

Four varieties of basil in my herb garden.
Left to right: sweet Genovese, dark opal, cinnamon, and purple basil, all growing in my herb garden this year.

Enjoy your basil garden, and the fruits of your labors!

You might also enjoy:
Ten Ways to Use Basil
How to Dry Homegrown Herbs
DIY Cayenne Pepper Powder
Harvesting the Herb Garden

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