If you buy seedling basil plants from a nursery and plant in April, you’ll be picking fresh leaves by mid-May. Basil planted from seed (less expensive, of course) won’t be ready for picking until June. Try a purple-leaf or curly-leaf variety for visual interest. Basil is usually sold in four inch plastic pots. Look for a pot in which several seed have been planted and which sports more than one basil seedling. When they are small, it is easy to divide the small plants and get several for the price of one.
Is your pesto past its prime? Maybe you harvested the main ingredient, fresh basil leaves, too early. Research at Michigan State University compared the storage life of basil leaves that were picked at different times during the day. They found that harvesting at 6:00 p.m. DOUBLED the shelf life of leaves versus those picked at 6:00 a.m. They also compared different storage temperatures. The best temperature was found to be 59 degrees – which is hard to maintain in a normal home. So, should your basil be stored in your refrigerator or in a cool dark place in the kitchen? At 77 degrees, the life of the leaves was seven days, compared to only three days in the refrigerator.