Basil Harvest - Knowledgebase Question

West Middlesex, PA
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Question by rave1
September 8, 1999
Basil is flowering and has a hot/spicy taste, too old to pick the leaves and dry now? I planted basil for the purpose of drying it. Now its starting to flower and the leaves don't smell as sweet and have a sharp hot/spicy taste to them. Are they past the point of drying now? What can I do?

Answer from NGA
September 8, 1999
Usually it is better to harvest the basil before it flowers and tries to set seed because the flavor does become a bit sharper. However, it is still perfectly okay to harvest and dry it. Next time, cut it back earlier and allow it to regrow one or more times. That way you should get several harvests before it flowers. If you find the taste too powerful you might try a different variety of basil next year since they do vary quite a bit from sweeter to more pungent. Remember also that the dried basil will have a weaker flavor than it does fresh, so you may be pleasantly surprised. When you do use it, start with a lesser amount than you would use of the store-bought dried basil because home grown is always far more flavorful!

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