Everything I read tells me how to select bunches of fresh Basil in the grocery store. In this part of the country, I have never seen it fresh no matter what time of the year it may be.

I can look out over the garden of this past season and see the dead stumps and stems of broccoli, cauliflower and kohlrabi. But standing tall and proud are all the Basil plants I planted throughout the beds. The bugs ate all the squash and then the cucumbers (after the cool weather crops) but no bugs ever touched the Basil. If the grasshoppers tasted it, they didn't come back for seconds. I harvested a double handful of the greenery about a week ago and enjoy the aroma whenever I want. So nice. I have found many ways to save the fresh herb by freezing it in water but my freezer space is at a premium. My batch is now completely dry and will go into a glass jar to save it for later use.

I noticed that one source mentions that you can only put fresh Basil into the recipe just as it is finished with any cooking since the herb loses its flavor by cooking. Okay, I'll remember that.

Since it is a member of the mint family, the flavor is said to be mildly of licorice and cloves. To me, it is just part of the sage and oregano and savory needed for a good spaghetti sauce. This is one of my first herb gardens with any success and I have never used any herbs in cooking that were not dried. I still have some on the shelf from what I grew about 6 years ago. The aroma is more faint and mild indeed.

I would have to know a bit more about the purple opal, lemon or cinnamon varieties before I would want to try them. The best notes I have read say to keep the fresh bundles best by standing them in fresh water as you would a bunch of flowers. The could last even longer if you had space in the refrigerator; cover with plastic wrap and keep cold; conditions you would expect to find in a florist shop.

The above link will take you to our Garden Treasury Section and the Basil collection of wise links to visit. There is historical information as well as what the plants require to do well in the garden.


  • Wash basil just before using and blot dry with paper towels.
  • When chopping or slicing basil, make sure the leaves are thoroughly dry to prevent them from sticking to the knife. To chop, use a chef’s knife on a cutting board.
  • To thinly slice fresh basil, stack several leaves. Roll stack lengthwise into cylinder. Cut cylinder crosswise at close intervals with sharp knife to form thin strips.
  • Like many fresh herbs, basil tastes best when added near the end of cooking as it loses flavor when exposed to prolonged heat.
  • To substitute fresh herbs for dried, the general rule of thumb is a 3:1 ratio—use 3 times more fresh than dried. 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil equals 1 teaspoon dried.
  • Tuck a few basil leaves inside summer sandwiches—such as BLT’s—for a hint of herbal flavor.
  • Sprinkle thinly sliced basil over pizza for a burst of color and Italian flair.
  • Whip up a batch of homemade pesto in the blender or food processor and toss with pasta and tomatoes for a cool and easy weeknight meal.
  • Bump up the taste and eye appeal of side dishes—such as vegetable salads and rice—by blending in a handful of chopped basil.
  • Toss basil leaves into green salads and top with your favorite Italian Dressing or Greek Vinaigrette Dressing.
  • Blend chopped basil with plain Salad Dressing or Dijon Mustard for a delicious herb-flavored sandwich spread.
  • Substitute fresh basil for dried in creamy dips for fresh summer flavor. Use 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil for each teaspoon dried basil.

Enjoy these great Kraft website recipes:

Pesto Presto
Insalate Caprese
KRAFT® Parmesan Bruschetta
Fresh Mozzarella and Tomato Pasta
Green Beans and Tomatoes Italian
Tomato & Orange Salad with Feta
PHILADELPHIA® Garlic & Herb Dip
Bistro Chicken Pasta Salad
Tossed Italian Garden Salad
Parmesan-Olive Pesto Pasta
Tomato Basil Salad
BOCA® Bolognese Pasta Sauce