What started as a handful of seeds a few months ago has turned into lots of basil. To keep it growing and producing all seasons, you need to keep cutting and harvesting it.
The "problem" is that I can't use it all! So, I've been experimenting with different ways to preserve basil for future use.
To harvest, pinch off the large leaves just below the lowest leaves.
The easiest method is drying. It's important to lay the basil leaves on a wire rack so that both sides have venhilation.
I placed the leaves on the rack and baked them at 170 (my oven's lowest setting) for five minutes, then turned the oven off and let the basil remain inside as the oven cooled. I repeated this process twice more until the basil was completely dried and brittle. I then crumbled it into a jar for storage and later use.
Though drying is the quickest and easiest way, the basil does lose some of its flavor. Another option is to preserve it by freezing. This involves a few steps.
The first is to boil several cups of water in a small boiler. Submerge the basil leaves for 5-10 seconds to blanch. (Be careful...it's easy to burn your hand when doing this step!)
After blanching, quickly place them in water-filled ice cube trays. This stops them from cooking and drying. Then pour a little more water in the trays to completely cover the basil and ensure throrough freezing.
I also repeated this same process but froze the basil in olive oil instead!
Once they are throroughly frozen, pop them out and store in freezer bags. They can then be easily added to sauces or soups in the future.
It'll be like summer all year long!