Basil and tomatoes! Hooray for summertime Jersey produce!
It Is Not Too Late To Plant Basil Plants
Basil is one of the most useful and loved herbs today. People all over the world use it, but Americans are probably one of the biggest consumers of Sweet Basil or Italian Basil as it is commonly called.
It is grown in gardens and patio pots for culinary use all over the United States. Basil is in the labiate family of plants and it is in the genus Ocimum that comes from a Greek word that means to be fragrant. Its species name is basilicum a word that comes from the Greek and which means king or prince. So this king of all herbs, often said to be the most useful and popular herb is a favorite among both cooks and gardeners.
There are more than 30 different species of basil available. The ones used most for cooking besides the sweet basil are dwarf basil with spicy
Globe being most familiar of these, there are also Thai basil Siam Queen, Lemon basil both Sweet Dani and Mrs. Burns and purple Basil. These are used both in foods and in vinegars, as well as for ornamental purposes.
It is important to note that if you grow basil you need to plant a few tomatoe plants near it. These plants both need the same conditions and will thrive near one another. Plus many folks use them together so it is convenient to pick them both at the same time. At this time of the year buy late tomato plants, bury them so that at least half of the stem is below the soil, feed and water well and you will soon have tomatoes. Large types of tomatoes should be planted directly in the ground, but cherry, plum or any small variety will do real well in a large pot surrounded by basil. Remember both plants need full sun.
Basil needs very warm weather in which to really thrive. I find
planting basil by seed after Memorial Day and then planting again at July 4th or there about I am insured a great supply of basil well into fall. Some people plant one more time in August to make pesto to freeze for winter. We have great trays of basil 1/2 price now ,come get some!
Water when dry and cut back as needed. Basil needs some food if you have sandy soil and also does best with an inch of water a week. Feed the plants with some time release granular if you have sandy soil. Follow directions and do not over feed any herb if you wish to have the best flavor.
Any extra plants can be grown in pots on the deck and then brought in to a sunny window in winter. They might not make it all winter, it all depends on the amount of sun.
When the basil become tall you may cut the top off to encourage new growth. Always harvest the leaves on a stem rather than by just pulling them off the plant. Snip a length of stem one or two inches or longer. This helps the plant to grow better. Cut off blooms early on to encourage fresh growth.
Chopped basil leaves are wonderful on fresh tomatoes with olive oil. It is a must in good spaghetti sauce and a great combo with Parmesan cheese on many vegetables and meats. Chop basil, along with a few other favorite herbs and mix into butter for a delicious herb butter to serve on crusty Italian bread or baked potatoes or even to toss on pasta.
Pesto is a mixture of basil, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese and often pine nuts. To prepare the basil for this, pull off the leaves from a stem that has been cut from the plant and add them to olive oil in a blender or food processor. Continue until a paste is formed. I have done cups and cups of this when basils are plentiful and put it in the freezer for winter use. The best way to freeze this oil and basil paste is to put it in small zip lock bags and flatten it. That way you may break off just what you need, rather than dealing with thick ice cubes of basil mix. I use this all winter, adding it to sautéed garlic and oil before adding plum tomatoes for my spaghetti sauce.
Basil is a summer herb and rarely will grow indoors, so enjoy it fresh
And freeze lots of it. Basil is very easy to grow and fun to pick. I also rub it on my arms and legs when working the garden because this will keep mosquitoes keep away! This really works!
Puree in blender or processor:
*1-cup olive oil
*2 packed cups fresh basil leaves (stems removed)
2 large cloves garlic (baked)
1 packed cup fresh parsley
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp olive oil
5 large cloves garlic
Boil 1 lb linguine; add the puree to sauté when finished. Toss with linguine; add 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese. May also add pine nuts. Pesto may be frozen.
- These first two ingredients can be done ahead and kept in zip lock bag in freezer. Flatten like sheets of paper to store and use in an easy manner.
4 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1 onion finely chopped
2 cans plum tomatoes or fresh tomatoes
2 sprigs (about 2 -3 inches long) freshly chopped basil
Equal amounts of fresh parsley to add to tomatoes
Salt/pepper to taste
Sauté garlic and onion in olive oil until golden. Put tomatoes in blender, add to olive oil. Cook 20-30 minutes. Add the last cup of tomatoe with herbs in it, stir in and shut off heat. Serve over pasta, meats or vegetables.