Ten Ways to Use Basil

Ten ways to use basil.

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 so they will grow bushy and provide lots of flavorful leaves throughout the growing season.

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Pinch off the stems with flowers - ideally, you should do this before the flowers appear, before it looks like the plants in my photos - 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

You might even end up with too much basil. If that happens to you, try these ten ways you can use up all that basil.

1. Dried Basil - take cuttings, remove the leaves from the stems and dry the leaves. You can find more information on how to dry and store your homegrown herbs here. Pack the dried leaves into a jar, or several jars if you have too much to fit in just one. Don't crumble the leaves until you're ready to use them.

2. You can use fresh or dried basil in almost everything: sauces, soups, seasoning mixes, and more. Wouldn't it be amazing in this fresh-from-the-garden roasted tomato soup?

3. You can - and you should - make pesto. I've always used walnuts instead of pine nuts because walnuts are much easier to find.

4. Freeze chopped basil leaves with water in ice cube trays. When you need some basil flavor in a dish such as a soup or sauce, just drop in a couple of cubes. In a recipe where you don't want extra liquid, let the ice melt and use the leaves alone.

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. Basil makes a nice change from the usual spinach in smoothies.

10. Add basil leaves 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. You'll find an awesome variety of basil seeds at Mary's Heirloom Seeds, and some tips on growing basil from GRIT.

There are forty varieties of basil to choose from. Here are four: sweet Genovese, dark opal, cinnamon, and purple basil

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

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Ten ways to use basil, because you can never have too much!

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  1. I adore Basil and love your ideas here. I have not started saving seed yet from my garden but this one will be my first. I have so much basil and should be able to collect much. I had Chocolate Basil icecream in Bloomington Indiana a few months ago and it was divine! I need to make some myself. Thanks for all the ideas; my basil is out of control! (in a good way!) Thanks for sharing on our Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop.

  2. Oh my, Debbie, that chocolate basil ice cream sounds amazing. I'm going to google for a recipe for that! Thank you for stopping by and for commenting.

  3. I am more encouraged that it is possible to grow enough basil for pesto. Thus Far, I've not accomplished an abundance.

  4. It is possible. Some of my plants did really well, and others not so well. Maybe it's the weather, maybe it's where they were located...? Keep trying. :-)

  5. Basil is by far my favorite herb, and lucky for me there's an abundance of it growing in my garden! We've made pesto with our basil about ten times this year!

  6. That was a lot of basil, Margaret! You must have a basil-friendly green thumb.

  7. Oh I LOVE basil! It grows so easy, and smells soooo nice! I had an abundance of it last year that we're still working on, I dried it and also put it in ice cube trays with olive oil and froze it. I've used it in stewed tomatoes, soups, in most recipes actually. The kids enjoy the area where the basil is, it's close to my oregano plants, and we call it my "pizza" garden! LOL!

    Coming over from Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth.

  8. "The Pizza Garden" - I love that! It must smell wonderful, Mrs. Abella. Thank you so much for stopping by.

  9. We use sunflower seeds in our pesto. It's delicious and much cheaper than pine nuts!

  10. What a great idea, Angel! Thank you.

  11. Our basil didn't do well this summer. It's going to seed now, so I will be saving some for next season. Did you know that you can make a pesto without any nuts. It's called Pistou (it's French) and it's delicious!
    Thanks for sharing your wonderful outdoor post on The Maple Hill Hop!

  12. I didn't know that. Thank you for sharing, Daisy!

  13. Just stopped in from Tuesdays with a Twist. We love homemade pesto. I like to make fresh tomato soup with frozen pesto cubes melted in it. It makes the soup so rich.

  14. That does sound rich and delicious, Jan!

  15. Great post - just love basil! I do appreciate you sharing with Home and Garden Thursday,

  16. What a beautiful dog and post, I actually had a herb garden this summers lots of different basils. Love if you share this on Fabulous Friday Party


  17. Thank you for the invitation, Maria, I'll check it out.

  18. I think I like it with the mozzarella best of all!! Thank you for sharing at the Art of Home-Making Mondays this week :)

  19. I agree, Jes, it's delicious with mozzarella and fresh tomatoes!

  20. Love this post - so many great tips and thanks for sharing at Tuesday's with a twist - I'll be featuring it this week at Garden Up green. Hope to see you there!

  21. Thank you, Carole! I'll stop by - thank you for the feature!

  22. So happy your shared the amazing basil post on Fabulous Friday Party

  23. I enjoyed the party, Maria. Thank you for hosting it.

  24. Anonymous6:12 PM

    I've grown basil for the first time this year and over time my plant has grown fairly big. I actually know fairly little about herbs and was wondering if you could give some advice. Since I live in Australia we still have a few months of summer growing left. Can I cut down about half my bush to use for pesto and the remainder survive? Also if it starts flowering or goes to seed do the leaves still taste the same? I also planted a rosemary plant this year and was wondering if I should do anything special to it other than take cuttings when needed. I do get some frosts over winter but am hoping it will continue to grow over the winter for the next season.

  25. Hi Therese, Yes, do cut down your basil plant. Cut it down about 1/3. The rest of the plant will continue to grow and you should be able to cut it again before winter. It's best to harvest it before the plant blooms; you can cut or pinch off all those flower spikes. It will grow better if you keep those cut off. After you harvest it the second time, before frost, let the plant bloom and produce seeds and then save those seed pods for next spring.

  26. Just this morning, I was wondering if I should do something to the flowers (?) on the top of my basil. And then I read this. Sounds like I should pinch them off.

    1. You can do one of two things: pinch off the flowers so your plant will continue growing leaves and you can harvest them, or let the plant flower and produce seeds. I usually pinch the flowers until late summer and then let the plant flower so I can harvest some seeds before the first frost.

  27. Anonymous10:26 PM

    To freeze you can simply lay leaves on cookie sheets in the freezer. When they are frozen put them in a zip lock bag and crush the leaves. You might need to leave the bag in the freezer and then crush a couple more times to get the leaves crushed up fine enough. No water, not ice cube trays. We use so much basil that I usually have a couple of gallon bags.

  28. Your Basil looks amazing, Kathi. You've got such wonderful plants! Love your ideas for using it as well. Thank you for being a part of the Hearth and Soul Link Party Community. I’m featuring this post at the party this week. Hope to ‘see’ you there! Take care, stay well, and I wish you a wonderful week!

  29. What an awesome and comprehensive post about basil, thank you so much for sharing your know-how and great ideas for the kitchen and garden!


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