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Basil is a relatively easy plant to care for, and if properly pruned, it can grow very quickly and in large quantities.
Even if you do a lot of cooking, it’s possible that you end up with more basil than you can reasonably eat, but that doesn’t mean you have to let it go to waste.
Below are some of the most creative ways to put your excess basil to use.
1. Make An Olive Oil Infusion
One great way to spruce up your meals is to infuse your olive oil with the subtle flavor of fresh basil.
Simply bruise a handful of basil leaves with the back of a spoon to release the natural oils and add them to a bottle of olive oil, or any other cooking oil of choice.
The flavor of the basil will be noticeable, but not overpowering, making it perfect as a dressing for salads or a way to add complexity to your favorite dishes.
2. Steam Away Congestion
If you’re dealing with a mild cold or seasonal allergies, a basil steam treatment can help clear up your congestion.
Simply add a handful of fresh basil to a pot of water and bring it to a boil. Transfer the water to a heat-resistant bowl, then drape a towel over your head and lean over the bowl to funnel the steam upward.
Because basil has natural antihistamine and analgesic properties, it will make the steam treatment even more effective, bringing much-needed relief.
3. Relieve Stomach Pains
Steeping a couple of basil leaves in a cup of tea is an excellent way to relieve discomfort from an upset stomach, motion sickness, or nausea.
For the best results, combine basil with other ingredients that have been shown to help with stomach issues, such as fresh ginger root or raw honey.
4. Freshen Up Your Drinks
Basil is a fast-growing plant, and if you grow your own at home, there may be times when you simply have more of it than you know what to do with.
One fun way to keep basil from going to waste is to chop some up and freeze them into ice cubes to add to your favorite drinks.
The flavor of basil goes especially well with summertime drinks such as lemonade – or mojitos.
5. Make A Soothing Massage Oil
The oils in basil function as a very mild muscle relaxant, which means infusing your favorite massage oils with crushed basil leaves can add some extra oomph when it comes to relieving tension.
Natural carrier oils such as almond, coconut, or jojoba oil are ideal, and some people find it more convenient to add a few drops of basil essential oil instead of using fresh leaves.
6. Treat Bug Bites
Basil has a number of medicinal properties that make it an excellent all-natural tool for relieving insect bites and stings.
The mild analgesic effect of basil oil helps to reduce pain and itching, while the antibacterial and antioxidant compounds fight off infection and reduce swelling.
Simply chop up a few basil leaves and press them against the bite for quick relief.
7. Make A Soothing Foot Bath
Soaking your feet in a bath made with fresh basil leaves is a wonderful way to relax after a long day.
Add a handful of basil leaves to a basin of hot water, along with some Epsom salts and your favorite essential oils, and enjoy.
Some studies have even suggested that adding basil to your bath or soaking basin can help alleviate headache symptoms.
8. Keep Bugs Away
Basil contains natural compounds that repel many pesky insects. To make a simple all-natural repellent, boil a handful of basil leaves in a quart of water, then let cool and add a teaspoon of Castille soap.
Put the mixture in a spritzer bottle and spray it on garden plants or near entryways to keep bugs away.
While it isn’t the strongest repellent available, this mixture is cheap, easy, and especially useful if you want to avoid any toxic chemicals.
No herb garden is complete without at least one basil bush, but most growers will end up with more of it than they need.
Instead of throwing away the extra trimmings or letting the bush flower and stop producing, try out some of the creative uses above to get the most out of your basil all year-round.