Pinching your basil plants will actually boost your harvest! Each time you pinch back the stem on your basil, it will branch out, giving you two branches where you had one. So, the more often you pinch, the more branches you will get!
Simply use your fingers or scissors (as shown at right) to cut back the top leaf set from the plant when it is six inches or taller. This encourages the plant to bush out and produce more leaves instead of growing tall and stemmy. Repeat often!!
It is especially important to pinch your basil if you see flowers starting to form! You want to prevent the plant from flowering for as long as possible. If you plant is small, or flowers have started to form, don’t worry, it’s not too late! Try pinching it and hopefully it will continue to fill out!
What to do with all that basil? Pesto of course!
Here’s our recipe:
2 c packed basil
½ c olive oil
½ c parmesan cheese (We like to mix in asiago and romano as well)
1/3 c walnuts
3 medium-large garlic cloves
Salt to taste
Bend together all ingredients to desired consistency. For long-term storage put pesto in ice cube try. Freeze and transfer to a ziplock freezer bag. If stored this way, your pesto should last at least a year in the freezer!