I often let a few of my basil plants blossom to prune the flower buds and dry them off.
No, I am not killing my beloved sweet basils but simply harvesting them for their nutritious and aromatic flowers.
You can dry and preserve salvaged basil flowers instead of disposing them to make herbal fusions and condiments for culinary and medical purposes.
Here is how you do it!
Bundle 3-4 flowers together with a rubber band and hook them to an unfolded paper clip to hang them by the hook on a warm location for 3-4 days until they turn NATURALLY crispy.
Hooray! Now, you have dried, crispy, and nutritious basil flowers at home.
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However, once the flowers start blooming, the leaves turn bitter, and your plant will slowly go into a reproductive mode.
Hence, you must decide whether to harvest them for leaves or keep them blooming.
Are you still confused? Here’s a helpful guide for you to decide better.
Table of Contents
- Should You Let Basil Flower?
- Are Basil Flowers Edible?
- Uses of Dried Basil Flowers
- Best Time to Harvest Basil Flowers
- How to Dry Basil Flowers?
- Tips to Store Dried Basil Flowers
Should You Let Basil Flower?
If you’re strictly harvesting it for leaves, it’s best to remove the flowers, pronto!
However, basil flowers are similar to basil leaves, flavorful and non-toxic, and are a great addition to many dishes.
Letting your basil flower depends on whether you wish to harvest your basil for leaves or flowers. So, you can let a few of them blossom if you have a plant to spare!
You should let your basil bloom if you have a few plants to spare. Then, use one of the plants to harvest flowers and leave the rest for the leaves.
Remember, once basil starts blossoming, the plant shuts down and goes into reproduction mode, causing its leaves to give a bitter or milder taste.
That means no more harvesting of leaves!
If you decide to keep all of your basil plants for their leaves, try preventing any more blooming by immediately pinching and removing the flower buds from the stems.
Are Basil Flowers Edible?
In fact, all parts of the basil plant, including the stem, are edible and remain so even after the plant blossoms.
The basil flowers are entirely safe to eat and can be used for various purposes; salad dressings, sprinklers for Mediterranean cuisines, kitchen condiments, and medicinal oil.
Depending on the variety, the tiny blooms will become purplish, pink, or white. These flowers change in texture rapidly, so they are best harvested after buds turn into flowery petals.
Flower buds like flower petals are edible and can be dried and consumed without any worry!
Does Consuming Basil Flowers Harm the Pets?
Many pet owners get worried when their dog or cat accidentally consumes basil flowers.
So, should you be worried?
Nope, basil flowers like basil leaves are non-toxic, and accidentally consuming them won’t harm in normal circumstances.
However, the compounds found in flowers can harm when consumed in a large quantity.
Here is what you can do to prevent it.
- Always keep an eye when your pet enters the garden or starts sniffing basil flowers.
- Distract them from the plants by playing with them.
- Prevent accidental consumption by moving the potted plants away from their reach.
Uses of Dried Basil Flowers
Basil is a versatile herb, and so are its flowers. When dried and preserved, flowers can be used for multiple applications in and outside the kitchen.
Dried basil flowers can be grounded and sprinkled on food, turned into a paste for culinary uses, and saturated into a herbal oil to improve digestion.
So, think before throwing them away.
Here are some of the applications of dried basil flowers.
1. Culinary Uses
One of the typical applications of dried basil flowers is for culinary purposes. These dried yet flavorful petals add zest to many different cuisines.
Ground basil flowers into a sprinkler to add over a salad. Garnish grounded basil on your favorite meals like pasta, cheese, or a plate of meat.
You can store dried basil flowers in a jar to later use as sprinklers. Otherwise, create a vinegar or olive oil infused with basil flowers to prepare culinary dressings.
How to Make Basil flower Vinegar
- Place freshly harvested basil flowers in a glass jar and cover them with red or white wine vinegar.
- Please leave it to infuse for at least a week, and then strain out the basil flowers.
- Voila! You have a basil flower-infused vinegar ready for salad dressing.
How to Make Basil Flower Oil
- Follow the same procedure as above and cover fresh basil flowers with olive oil in a glass jar.
- Store the solution in a cool, dark place for a month.
- Strain out the flowers or leave them in the oil to strengthen the infusion.
Alternatively, you can brew fresh basil flowers in a pot of boiling water to make an aromatic basil tea.
2. Medicinal Uses
Use freshly pruned basil flowers to prepare herbal tea, but keep your dried basil flowers for medicinal purposes.
The high camphor content in basil flowers is known for treating many ailments. For example, consuming dried basil flowers may treat your respiratory problems, digestion issues, headache, and nausea.
Basil flowers are safe to consume in a food amount but can be unsafe when taken by mouth as a medicine.
Pro Tip: When used as a treatment, try keeping the recommended dosage to 600 mg a day to avoid side-effects.
3. Décor Uses
You can use big flower buds salvaged from basil plants for decorations. The varying colored flowers will provide both decorative appeal and an aromatic smell.
Dried basil flowers with seed heads and steams can be used as potpourris decorations or made into a bouquet to keep in your room.
Displaying basil flowers in the jam-jar in your home will add visual appeal. They release an aromatic smell that helps to keep pests and insects away.
Best Time to Harvest Basil Flowers
The best time to harvest basil flowers is when the plant stem starts producing fresh blossoms. However, it’s best not to let these flowers linger on the plant too long because they can turn bitter.
Basil flowers generally bloom in summer, so wait until they start flowering at around two months after planting the basil seeds and harvest immediately to make the best use of them.
As a rule of thumb, it’s best to harvest flowers when the buds start transforming into petals when they’re tender enough.
You’d know this when the plant stem gets woody with new sprouting buds.
Things to Remember When Harvesting Basil Flower
- It’s best to prune the entire woody stem so a new, green stem can take its place.
- Cut the stem back to ¼ inch (0.6 cm) above a growth node to encourage new side growth and prevent the main stem from growing longer.
- Use Quick Dip as the floral hydrating solution to keep freshly cut flowers hydrated and preserved. This will allow the blooms to stay hydrated for quite a while.
Pro Tip: Prune flower buds immediately after blossoming if you’re harvesting your plant for its leaves to prevent new buds from sucking up all the essential nutrients.
How to Dry Basil Flowers?
Drying is a perfect way to preserve basil flowers for culinary and medical uses. While you can immediately consume fresh basil flowers such as preparing herbal tea, drying them off will ensure they last longer.
Dry the basil flowers using the common air-drying method or microwave them to suck out the moisture without losing their flavor or nutrients.
1. Air-dry Basil Flowers
Here is how to properly air-dry your basil flowers.
Step 1: Clip the Flowers
Start with clipping basil flowers with your fingertip or knife precisely where the flower meets the stem. This pruning method ensures the growth of a new branch or leaf.
Step 2: Collect and Make a Bundle
Once clipped and collected, separate leaves and flowers. Make a group of three to four basil flowers tied together with a rubber band or thin rope.
Step 3: Tie the Flower to the Hook
Unfold a paper clip in the shape of “S.” and hook one end to the rubber band and the other end to a nail or hook.
Step 4: Dry Them Off
Hang the flowers upside down for 3-4 days in a warm, dry location without direct sunlight. The soft petals will lose moisture immediately.
Step 5: Store Dried Flowers
Check for a dry and crispy texture using your finger. Once they’re completely dried, remove them and carefully store them inside a glass or plastic jar with a tight-fitting lid.
Voila! You now have naturally dried basil flowers at your disposal.
2. Microwaving Your Basil Flowers
If you cannot wait longer for basil flowers to dry off, you can microwave them instead. It is a super-fast method of drying.
Step1: Clean the flower with water.
Step2: Lay them in a single layer on paper towels.
Step3: Place them in a microwave at a low temperature for at least 3 minutes.
Step 4: Check every minute to prevent flower petals from burning.
Take them out of the microwave and let them cool off naturally. Once done, store all of it inside a glass jar and place it inside the dark cupboard or pantry.
Is it Better to Dry or Freeze Basil?
Although the drying method works best with preserving basil flowers for a longer duration, the freezing methods help maintain their natural flavor and nutrients.
Whatever the disagreement is, freezing your basil flower will help preserve the nutrient, and drying will preserve it for a longer duration of time.
Blanching (Scalding in hot water or steam) and freezing basil flower will keep it edible for at least six months.
If you wish to store them longer (Up to a year):
- Consider drying the flowers and storing them in a glass jar
- Alternatively, freeze raw flowers in ice cube trays with water and keep them inside the deep freezer.
Tips to Store Dried Basil Flowers
Although dried herbs can last longer, they will lose flavor over time if not stored properly.
The excess light and moisture will remove the flavor sooner. So, consider storing your herbs inside a dark cupboard or pantry where the sunlight cannot penetrate.
Here are few tips for storing and preserving your dried basil flowers.
- Use a typical glass jar or plastic container to store dried basil flowers. Glass and plastic material helps to keep the temperature as it is.
- Never keep your dried basil flower open because it can quickly lose its flavor and texture.
- The container for storage must be dry and air-tight because the moisture will cause fungi growth.
- Alternatively, you can crumble or crush dried flowers with dried leaves and place them in the same container for culinary uses.
If you aren’t up for drying your basil flowers, you can grind them with pine nuts, garlic, virgin oil, and salt to prepare a pesto sauce!
I am always on the lookout for any flower buds.
Once I see these buds starting, I spring into action. I nip them immediately so that my basil plant can stay healthy, and I can salvage the aromatic flowers before they wilt.
Blossoms aren’t bad unless you prune them in time and dry them off. Drying will ensure they last longer than usual.
Remember, you’d need to dry and store basil flowers immediately because they can quickly lose their flavor and nutrient contents when left open.
Related Article: Why are Basil Leaves Turning Yellow?