Thai basil adds a unique quality to any garden, elaborating its sector with an exotic purple flower and exciting the nostrils to its wonderful aroma. I have been growing this herb for years and have found it to be a delightful addition to my garden. It is quickly becoming a more dominate form of basil, being found in most nurseries across the nation. It is also unfortunately, one of the more tricky basils to grow and the resources on the internet are fairly limited, which is why I’ve composed this piece on how to harvest Thai basil. I’ve also written another piece on how to plant Thai basil, which I also recommend reading. This piece, however, will focus on several key areas of harvest: when to harvest Thai basil, where to harvest Thai basil, what to do with the harvested Thai basil.
When to Harvest Thai basil
Thai basil, as most basil plants go, prefers to be harvested at dawn. This means that you need to set that alarm clock and get up just before the sunrise. Basil plants as a whole retain much more of their flavor early in the morning; this is common knowledge amongst herbalists and gardener, which is why we are up before everyone else. I recommend watering the plant prior to cutting the leaves. I’m not sure why, but I have found that the taste of the Thai basil is much more delightful after a fresh watering. In addition, Thai basil will make an excellent addition to your morning tea. The taste really is as exotic as its name implies.
Where to Harvest Thai basil
Thai basil is best harvested at the top of a group of leaves, or foliage. If you cut in the middle of the stem, the stem will merely rot and die, leaving you with a hindered growth rate. If you have already made this mistake then to fix it simply cut the stem lower to above the next set of leaves. You will usually see a difference in a few days. We have all made this mistake so do not feel bad about it. Thai basil is a hard plant to grow but it will not die simply from this. I also recommend that you cut off the flowers of Thai basil. A lot of the plant’s energy will go into producing buds and flowers, taking away from the taste. To prevent this from happening simply cut the flower off. I will usually only cut the flowers off several days before I plan to harvest the plant, which is usually how long it takes for the leaves to retain their full flavor potential. When you harvest the plant be sure to take it down to approximately six inches, this is considered standard for all basil plants.
What to do with Harvested Thai basil
Thai basil is unfortunately a short-lived herb. It only retains its flavor for several days. To preserve the flavor, you can freeze the herb. I have found this to be quite an effective way at keeping its unique taste. Another thing that I recommend is only cutting it when it is absolutely necessary. Unlike other basil plants, Thai basil offers a unique purple flower, which complements so many other plants in a garden. You can use Thai basil for its taste but also for its beauty. When you do decide to cut, the flowers off you can use them in a beer making kit, for a different taste that is sure to surprise friends. With the leaves, I recommend them to be used in a salad. I have found that fresh Thai basil and Texas Tarragon go a long way in improving the taste of an ordinary garden salad. To capture the most amount of flavor, without overpowering the taste buds, I recommend cutting up the leaves. This allows for each bite to be a little taste of the leaves instead of one strong taste.