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Basil, Sweet
'Sweet Basil' - Photo sent in by Trevor Carrington of Pennsylvania.
Basil, Sweet
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Sweet Basil
(Large Leaf Italian)
Ocimum basilicum

Also known as 'Large Leaf Italian' basil, 'Sweet Basil' is native to Europe where it has been cultivated for centuries as a fresh and dried culinary herb. It has been a common plant in American kitchen gardens since the late 1700s. 

The leaves are used fresh to make pesto, and can be dried and used as a seasoning. A favorite of ours in Italian dishes.

Prefers well-drained soil, even moisture, and full sun. The plants grow to about eighteen inches, and provide several harvests. An annual.

Each packet contains one gram, which is approximately 350 seeds.

Harvest, Storage and Using Your Basil

First thing in the morning, when the essential oils of the plants are most concentrated, harvest mature leaves. A dual purpose practice is to regularly pinch back the growing tips of your plants. These trimmings can be used in the kitchen and the pruning of the growing tips stimulates branching which will result in sturdy, bushier plants. Whatever your harvesting practice, do not reduce your plant's foliage by more than one-third and allow it to recover before harvesting from the same plant again. After harvesting and since basil is a leafy green plant, encourage growth by feeding a good, balanced fertilizer.

The essential oils (the components that provide the flavors and fragrance) are as noted previously, quite fragile. That is, they are easily lost. Harvesting at their peak in the morning is the first step but how you store it is also critical.

For long-term storage, basil leaves can be dried and used as seasoning. In fact, many recipes call for dried basil rather than fresh, as the flavor is more subtle and complimentary. However, the best way to store basil past the fresh use stage, while preserving full-flavor, is to do what Denise does. She takes the leaves and either chops them or runs them through the food processor. As quickly as possible, they are then placed into ice cube trays and frozen. Once solid, she removes them and either stores them in freezer bags or for longer term, in vacuum sealed bags. Then throughout the year we can thaw and enjoy "fresh" basil in dishes, drop a cube into sauce or soups, or make into pesto.

During the growing season, you can take your clippings, wrap the cut ends in a damp paper towel and store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. They will last a week or two using this method but we generally either just go out and harvest what we need, fresh, or if it is a period where we have an abundance, process for long-term storage as described.
Customer Reviews Average Rating review View All Reviews
Easy to grow and delicious!
I can't remember the recommended procedure for planting these, but I will tell you how I did it. Sprinkle a bunch of seeds all over the ground, kinda mix em in, and water. In a few weeks you will have way too much basil.

I planted a 16"x16" area with a ton of seed, and ended up with a very dense patch of basil I proceeded to harvest a third of the leaves about once a week until I spotted signs of blooming (little green flower starting on top, kind of looks like a hop flower) and then I cut the whole plant.

This basil makes great pesto. My wife and I made about a gallon of pesto all said and done. Ate it until we couldn't stand it and froze the rest. We still have quite a bit as a little bit goes a long way. It is also delicious served with sliced tomatoes and mozzarella as a caprice salad. Easy and delicious and it smells so good in your garden. Tons of food in a small area. What's not to love?
Reviewed by: Marshall Gibson from Salem, OR. on 2/25/2018
Perfect addition to any garden
This basil has been wonderful. I started it inside while the weather was cool and once the soil warmed up, I transplanted my plants outside. By mid-June the plants were growing rapidly and have been a great addition to the garden. It was easy to grow and has been very easy to care for. It gives off a great scent and even better taste.
Reviewed by: Trevor Carrington from Glen Rock, PA. on 6/27/2017
Easy to Grow
I never knew Basil was so easy to grow. The seed packet had so many seeds and I'm sure every single one germinated and have grown into huge beautiful Basil plants. Outstanding performance.
Reviewed by: Joe DeMeo from Valparaiso, IN. on 8/16/2014
Grow beautifully
As long as you care for them, they grow throughout the summer and produce flavorful, green leaves. It does make good pesto basil.
Reviewed by: Valerie Whitman from 38134. on 7/31/2012
Great for Pesto!
Excellent for making Pesto. Continued to grow throughout the summer when leaves were regularily picked. Will plant every year!
Reviewed by: Anne Thiel from Boring, Oregon. on 6/3/2011
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