Basil is an annual herb. To maximize its foliage and flavor, you need to prune it regularly. Failure to do so, the plant begins to flower. While the whitish or purple flowers are beautiful, they can make the plant die down prematurely. They also cause the stems to become woody and the leaves bitter. So what to do with your basil flowers? Find out more in this article.
It is best to snip them off as soon as they begin to bud. You can use shears or scissors to cut them off, or simply pluck them using your fingers. Getting rid of the flowers in the early stages allows the plant to focus its energy on growing foliage instead of flowering and seeding. As a result, you enjoy an abundant supply of basil leaves during the growing season. Then, the plant can go into the flowering and seeding phase timely towards the end of its life cycle.
What To Do With Basil Flowers?
Basil flowers are edible and non-toxic whether raw or cooked. They have a basil-like taste although it may be milder or bitter. They can be used in a wide range of recipes for garnishing and to add flavor.
They are most potent as buds before they develop petals. At this stage, they are also more palatable and softer. Even if they have bloomed with petals, you do not need to remove the petals to add them to your recipes. The entire flower including petals and bulb are edible.
Aside from their unique earthy, citrusy taste, basil flowers offer numerous health benefits. They are rich in a wide range of nutrients including Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Calcium, Iron, and Manganese.
They reduce memory loss, blood pressure, and improve mental awareness. They also help to prevent different ailments e.g. hypertension, diabetes, and cancer. As such, they can be used in different ways for culinary purposes.
6 Ways Of Using Basil Flowers
Prepare Infused Basil Tea
Since the flowers have a milder taste and smell than basil leaves, they are a great option for making infused herbal tea.
What You Need
- Fresh basil flower sprigs
- Hot water
- Mesh tea strainer
- Teacups or mugs
- Measuring cup
- Boil water.
- Place fresh basil flower sprigs in the teapot.
- Pour hot water over the basil flowers in the teapot.
- Let the tea steep for at least 5 minutes. However, do not leave it to steep for longer as it will become bitter.
- Enjoy hot or as iced tea.
Make Basil Flower Vinegar
Basil flower vinegar is combined with citrus juice or olive oil to make salad dressing. It is easy to make by following these steps:
- Put fresh basil flowers in a glass jar.
- Cover the flowers with white wine vinegar or red vinegar.
- Keep adding basil flowers into the glass jar and then white or red vinegar until the jar is full.
- Keep the jar closed throughout apart from when adding the ingredients.
- Close the jar air-tightly and leave it for 1-2 weeks.
- Strain the basil flowers. The remnant liquid is basil flower vinegar.
- Transfer the vinegar into a different glass jar or bottle for storage. Cap or cork the jar tightly.
Make Basil Flower Oil
This method is simply done by infusing basil flowers in your favorite cooking or salad oil.
- Put fresh basil flowers in a glass jar
- Fill the glass jar with olive oil (or any other oil) up to your desired level.
- Close the jar tightly and store it in a cool, dry, dark place for a month. Ensure all the flowers remain submerged in the oil throughout to prevent mold manifestation.
- Strain the flowers and store the infused oil for use as need be.
Make Pesto Sauces
Pesto is a green, creamy sauce that can be used as a pasta sauce or as a dip. Typically, it is made of crushed garlic leaves, olive oil, parmesan cheese, and pine nuts. You can replace basil leaves with basil flowers in the recipe.
Put Them in Salads
Basil flowers can be sprinkled over a salad both for garnishing and flavoring purposes. They add a mild touch of basil flavor to the salad. You could also sprinkle some over a plate of pasta, stir-fried vegetables, meat, fruits, etc.
Decorate with the Basil Flowers
Bundled basil flowers make beautiful bouquets that you can lay over your dinner table, entryway table, or gift a loved one.
How to Store Basil Flowers
As the plant continues to grow, it will constantly produce new flowers. As such, within a short time, you will have too many basil flowers at your disposal, and you may wonder how to store or preserve them.
Basil flowers can be stored fresh or dried. You can simply put fresh basil flowers in a glass jar, close it air-tightly, and store them in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. If you opt to dry it, you can air dry, or dry them in a dehydrator, oven, or microwave.
Air-drying is a slower method as the flowers may take up to 10 days to dry depending on the surrounding environmental conditions. Air drying preserves the flavor, color, and potency of the basil flowers. On the other hand, using a microwave, dehydrator, or oven is quick, but the flowers may burn or cook. They could also lose their flavor, color, and potency.
Basil Flower Varieties and What to Do with Them
The color and taste of basil flowers vary depending on the specific variety of the basil. Some varieties have a more outstanding flavor than others making them suitable for certain recipes but not others. Below is a look at the six most common basil flower varieties and how to use them.
- Christmas Basil. Christmas basil produces purple flowers. They have a fruity flavor making them suitable for culinary use in salads and beverages.
- Cinnamon Basil. This type of basil has a cinnamon flavor. It produces dark-purple flowers with glossy leaves. They make beautiful flower bouquets for decorating. They can also be used in salads and other recipes for garnishing.
- Sweet Basil. Sweet basil is the most popular type of basil. The leaves and flowers have a licorice-clove flavor. It is commonly used in Italian recipes.
- Greek or Bush Basil. It has a strong smell but a mild flavor. It is used interchangeably with sweet basil in italic recipes.
- Thai Basil. It has an anise-licorice flavor. It is commonly used in Southeast Asian or Thai recipes.
- Holy Basil. It has pinkish flowers. Holy Basil is highly regarded in the Hindu religion. The leaves and flowers are used to make immune-boosting infused tea.
- Lemon Basil. Produces white flowers. They can be used in salad, fish dishes, and to make infused basil tea.
Basil is a versatile herb and so are its flowers. Basil flowers can be used in a wide range of recipes or as a substitute for basil leaves. If you are particular about a specific flavor, pay attention to the basil variety. Ensure proper care for your plant to keep it flourishing throughout its lifecycle.