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So far the toughest part about blogging about life stuff is remembering to take the pictures. You’d think it would be fairly easy in this Age of Instagram but I keep finding myself running for my phone half way through my projects.
Anyway…. I’ve harvested most of the basil. We’re having a strange summer. August wasn’t as warm as it usually is and September has been rather cool.
Don’t get me wrong, I love this weather. I thrive anywhere fro 60* – 80*. My poor Basil, however, prefers it hotter.
A couple days in the low 70’s and my poor plants started fading. They don’t tolerate cool weather. So out to the garden I went with my clippers and just snipped those babies at the base of the stem.
I left some of the smaller plants; the ones that were stunted by the bigger plants and shielded from the cold.
I secretly hoped we’d get a last hooray; a week or two of hot weather to let those babies grow and thrive. (It seems my wish was granted. Its 88* today!)
I grow a lot of basil. I plant it from seed at the end of May and by June I’m chasing the Renaissance Man out of the garden. He starts picking the leaves off before they’re big and I panic because they need their leaves to grow! Basil is the flavor of Summer and he loves to cook with it.
His favorite is Tomato-mozzarella salad. It’s technically not cooking because its a cold salad but he also makes Chicken Parmesan with the big basil leaves between the chicken and the mozzerella and he’ll add whole leaves to his deep dish pizza.
He’s the reason I’ve gained weight. I blame him and Italian food. Completely. Its just really hard to practice portion control when he cooks!
In spite of all the the things we use fresh basil for, I always have a lot left at the end of summer. So I dry it.
I don’t really like drying it in the oven or dehydrator.
( I have this dehydrator, It works great on other things.)
The heat turns the leaves really dark and I feel like it looses a lot of the flavor. In the past I’ve just laid the clean leaves out on trays and let them air dry. It takes a couple days and a whole lot of space. I have a lot of basil. This year I set up a drying rope in my hall. The hallway runs down the middle of the house and gets no direct sunlight. It’s also right in front of the return air vent so there’s a constant air flow. Its working beautifully.
I’ll take these stalks into the kitchen and put them in a sink full of cold water. Swish them around, paying attention to the bottom leaves. Dirt likes to splash up onto the leaves and hang out in the crevices. Its really important to get the dirt off. No one wants to eat dirty basil.
I’ll pull out each stalk individually, pluck off any yellowed or crunchy leaves, trim of any burnt chewed up edges. Once I get the stalks clean and free of poor quality leaves I pat them dry with a towel and tie them all together to hang on the drying line.
I don’t use any pesticides in my garden. I do a little companion planting to deter bugs but unfortunately the basil is the deterrent. I stick a few plants by my tomatoes to entice bugs that would otherwise munch on my fruit.
The bugs then move on to become pollinators or food for the birds so it’s okay, I grow extra just for them!
This is my favorite part.
When the leaves are all dry and crunchy, I gently snap them off the stalk and start chopping. The Renaissance Man is in love with the smell of fresh basil but I much prefer the smell of dry basil.
To me it smells like magic and hope.
Basil was one of the first herbs I used in spell craft, years ago when I was just a baby witch. I rolled a candle in store bought basil and cast a money spell. It worked. The Idiot won a raffle and bought a pool- not the point…
The point is, it was really exciting and I’ve attached the smell to the feeling.
Basil is my go-to herb for money spells. Add to jars, wallets, cash boxes. It draws abundance and prosperity.
Basil is also used magically to bring love, peace and happiness. Use in sachets, charm bags, stuff into poppets or just sprinkle it around your house for protection.
It has been thought to “lift spirits and relieve melancholy” when consumed. It can be brewed into a tea often used to relieve headaches and other stress ailments.
Sorry -not sorry, my inner Hermoine is butting in right now.
European lore say that Basil belongs to Satan and one must curse the ground while planting Basil in order for it to grow properly. The French idiom, “Semer le basilica” means “to sow the basil” and is used to refer to someone ranting.
More fun folklore – Witches were said to drink basil juice before flying…
I can attest that neither are true, I have never curse the ground and my basil always does well, I also do not drink basil juice before flying….I prefer vodka.
If you need some Basil, for craft work or whatever, I have plenty. You can find it here in my etsy shop!
No herbal product is intended as a substitute for competent medical care. Please see your physician before adding any herbal supplement to your diet.
All information herein is from traditional or historical reference and intended to help you make an informed decision.