Arbor Gate's Picks of the Month
By this time of the summer, the basil you planted in April may be somewhat exhausted. August heat doesn’t deter the basils, so maybe you’d like to add a fresh basil to your garden, provide a dramatic splash of color and texture, and at the same time plan ahead to fall gift-giving.
If so, Purple Basil might be just the thing to add to your herb collection. A special favorite of mine, it seems to thrive on heat-so the time is ripe. And since it measures up to its basil cousins in speed of growth, you’ll have lots of ruffled purple leaves to add to cool summer salads soon after planting.
Purple Basil is a sweet basil; so its taste is predictably the same as the many green sweet basils you’re familiar with. All it needs is well-drained soil, lots of sun, a handful of slow-release organic fertilizer (I use TOP) at the time of planting and occasionally throughout the growing season, and of course plenty of water. Fortunately, we’re able to grow basil in big pots in our area, so you can find just the right spot of sun for a gorgeous array of this spending basil.
As to that gift idea; Warm a quart of good quality white vinegar and pour it over a big handful of Purple Basil leaves (and stems) you’ve placed in a large glass jar or lidded crock. Store in a dark place at room temperature for about three weeks. Strain the basil out and pour the now-pink vinegar into decorative bottles for gift-giving. If you like, place a fresh sprig of thyme or Mexican Mint Marigold in the bottle for another little boost of flavor.
The vinegar is visually appealing and gives a great flavor lift to salads or drizzled over grilled vegetables.
I think you’ll enjoy the great color in the summer garden, and your friends will appreciate the lovely pink basil-flavored vinegar. What better way to make use of the dog days of August!
(For detailed instructions on making larger quantities of herbal vinegars, check the internet for “herbal vinegars + making” Lots of wonderful ideas await.)