Even if you don’t have a garden — or have a severely neglected one like mine this year! — you can still have fresh (organic) basil all the time without spending an arm and a leg on the fresh stuff at the grocery store. Or a ton of time caretaking or multiple daily rinsing (like with sprouts) or whatever — you can set this up and (mostly) forget about it, except for pinching and watering (more on that below).
You just take several cuttings of fresh organic basil — either purchased from the store, or if you’re lucky and have a friend with basil plants, cut fresh from the garden (in which case you might not even need this tip — last year we literally had BUSHES of basil, and took a whole garbage bag of it, complete with accompanying earwigs, to a friend who innocently asked for “some” basil ) — and then you cut off a little bit from the end of the stem so the cut is fresh, and stick it in a jar of water, making sure that only the stem (i.e. no leaves) is in the water. I haven’t even taken the rubber bands of the last couple of store-bought groups that I’ve used!
(This is also a great way to keep a few sprigs of basil going from your garden, if you have one, in the fall in anticipation of a frost!)
Put the basil jar on a windowsill (I keep mine on the window above my sink so I don’t forget to water it!), and the stem will shoot out roots into the water, and eventually the plant will put out lots more leaves. All for your culinary pleasure!
It may try to put out flowers at first, instead of leaves, which will look like this:
Just pinch those off at the next joint down that has two full normal-shaped leaves. Keep pinching them off whenever they appear, and eventually they’ll start not appearing as often, as the plant develops a fuller root structure.
And make sure to keep plenty of water in the jar. With the plant I have going now, which I’ve had going for a couple of months, I’m filling the pint jar about every three days — it’s very thirsty!
Basil plants won’t last forever this way, nor will they probably produce enough leaves to make any large batches of pesto (you’ll need a friend with some earwigs for that! ), but it’s wonderful for a little garnish or to add some fresh herb flavor to dishes.
When you find leaves starting to get brown splotches on them, and/or leaves start to wilt and fall off, it’s time to use up the rest of the leaves in a (small) batch of pesto or something of that ilk before they all succumb to whatever is ailing the plant. Then buy from the store, or pick from the garden, a new cutting, and start the process all over again!
This post is part of Real Food Wednesday, Healthy 2Day Wednesday, Gluten Free Wednesday, Works for Me Wednesday, Turning the Table Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday, Pennywise Platter Thursday, Real Food 101, and Full Plate Thursday.
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