Harvest Basil Before Frost

Our Indian summer is here for several more days but it won’t last forever.  Frost hit in some low lying areas a week or so ago but many gardens are still going strong.

Some plants in the vegetable garden can tolerate light frost; others have no resistance to it.  Basil is one of those crops that can’t take even a hint of frost.

I’ve taken the time to collect some of my basil now before the frost hits here.  In the past, I’ve dried basil in a food dehydrator.  Many of the subtle flavors seem to be evaporated out doing it that way but it stores well and keeps most of its green color,

Last week I chopped a quart of fresh basil and poured olive oil over it to keep it fresh.  There is nothing new to this method. For years, people have been preserving basil in olive oil.  I found out just recently that botulism could form in the basil-oil mixture if it is kept at room temperatures for more than a few days.  Even if the mixture is refrigerated, botulism can grow.  The only safe way to keep basil and oil mix is in the freezer.

I froze a couple of pint jars and brought one out today just to check it.  It’s frozen solid; I’ll have to let it thaw a little before it will be easy enough to scoop out.

A jar of frozen basil-olive oil mix, right out of the freezer.

Some people put their basil-oil mix into ice cube trays and then freeze it.  Later, they take cubes out of the freezer as they need them.

Next year I think I’ll watch out for ice cubes at the garage sales.


2 thoughts on “Harvest Basil Before Frost”

  1. We haven’t had a hard frost yet here in SE Ann Arbor. I cut back (harvested) one of my basils a few months ago but it grew back and I’m holding out for it to get bigger still for my final harvest. I let one of the others flowers, and I’m still waiting for seeds. (I start everything from seed).

  2. Hi Monica,
    We’ve had a couple of close calls with the frost — so far so good. The last couple of weeks have been a nice bonus. Hopefully, the additional warm days will help your basil produce a bumper crop of seed for you.

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