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Basil dishes up classic Italian flavor in eye-catching bushy plants suitable for garden beds or containers. Grow this tasty beauty in a sunny spot, and you'll reap rewards of flavorful foliage in shades of green, purple, or bronze. Basil lends a distinctive taste to salads, pizza, and pasta dishes. Use small leaves whole; chop larger leaves. Add leaves to dishes just before serving for greatest taste and aroma. Basil plants are exceedingly sensitive to cold; start basil seeds indoors or plant basil outside after all danger of frost has passed.
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How to Grow Basil
Start snipping as soon as plants unfurl at least four sets of leaves. Pick only as many individual leaves as you'll use. To store fresh basil for up to five days, clip sprigs and treat them like fresh cut flowers -- in water at room temperature. Basil turns brown if stored in the refrigerator. When frost threatens, cut plants, plunging stems into a few inches of water in a clean bucket.
To store leaves, dry, freeze, or hot pack in sterilized bottles with vinegar and olive oil. Or preserve basil flavor in pesto, which stores in the refrigerator up to one month and can be frozen for up to two years.