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Saving Basil Seeds---leave the flowers on or not?

 
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This may be such a dumb question that it breaks the internet, but those basil seeds inside the white flowers are so tiny, I wonder if it's okay to put the whole flower (after letting it kind of dry out on a paper towel) into a container (a small glass container that used to belong to some pimentos before I cleaned it) with a little powdered milk to absorb moisture.

I already did it so if it's wrong, I won't do it with the rest of them, lol. Got tons of basil this year and it all went to seed.
 
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Seed saving isn't as obvious as most people think so your question isn't dumb at all. There's a lot of variables.

I always harvest the whole flower stalk and let it dry on paper towels or some newspaper to catch any of the tiny seeds, then put the stalk and any loose seeds into a paper bag for storage. If the flower stalk is not completely dry and you put it in an airtight container, it will probably mold, even with the dry milk, which I'd personally use for cooking.

I saved a bunch of seeds once and stored them in a ziplock baggie. I swear they were dry when they went in but everything went moldy. Since then it's paper bags for me. Better for the environment too.
 
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I allow the flower stems to dry a long time in the field. Then allow them to dry even longer in a paper sack with an open top. When the whole flower stalk is thoroughly dry and crunchy, then I separate the seeds from the rest of the flower stalk.

The seeds certainly don't need to be separated from the dried up flower parts. I usually separate them by winnowing, or running through a colander/screen, or both.

 
Emily Elizabeth
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Robin Katz wrote:Seed saving isn't as obvious as most people think so your question isn't dumb at all. There's a lot of variables.

I always harvest the whole flower stalk and let it dry on paper towels or some newspaper to catch any of the tiny seeds, then put the stalk and any loose seeds into a paper bag for storage. If the flower stalk is not completely dry and you put it in an airtight container, it will probably mold, even with the dry milk, which I'd personally use for cooking.

I saved a bunch of seeds once and stored them in a ziplock baggie. I swear they were dry when they went in but everything went moldy. Since then it's paper bags for me. Better for the environment too.



Thanks, I wondered about the bags being a bad idea as well.

I went on a house-hunting trip several years ago and looked at a home owned by a Ukranian woman who lived to be in her hundreds. She saved seeds in the basement in glass jars and they were still there looking quite good. I'll put some in brown bags as well and omit the milk and see what happens.
 
Emily Elizabeth
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
I allow the flower stems to dry a long time in the field. Then allow them to dry even longer in a paper sack with an open top. When the whole flower stalk is thoroughly dry and crunchy, then I separate the seeds from the rest of the flower stalk.

The seeds certainly don't need to be separated from the dried up flower parts. I usually separate them by winnowing, or running through a colander/screen, or both.



Thanks---yes I think I was being lazy frankly, lol. I had a lot of stuff this season, I've dried almost all my herbs in the oven and kept some fresh ones too. I'm in ND so we are close to the crazy cold temps rolling in.
 
Robin Katz
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Emily,

The Ukranian woman's seeds were just the seeds, right? I think that is the difference here. If you harvest the mature flower tops with the seeds, the vegetable matter holds a lot of moisture. If you separate the seeds the way Joseph described, then the seeds hold far less water since they are thoroughly dried out and dormant.

I save the cold winter months for separating the now-dry seed heads from the seeds. But until then they are all in labeled paper bags to completely finish drying.

On a different note, you said you dry your herbs in the oven. In my experience, this method results in a less pungent dried herb due to the volatile components being driven off by the heating process. I now dry my herbs on a towel in the garage where it is cool, dry, and dark-ish. Even the parsley keeps a really strong flavor this way. I dry a lot of medicinal herbs too and processing conditions with those are very important in order to keep the quality high. Heat, light, and oxygen all have a tendency to deteriorate the quality of culinary and medicinal herbs.
 
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I’m much lazier. I do basil in the same place each year, and I usually just let a few go to seed and let them stratify in place. If I want a new are I take the whole seed head and put it where they will be next spring. This works fantastic for cilantro, parsley, basil, dill. Only OK for others I have tried.
 
Emily Elizabeth
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Robin Katz wrote:Emily,

The Ukranian woman's seeds were just the seeds, right? I think that is the difference here. If you harvest the mature flower tops with the seeds, the vegetable matter holds a lot of moisture. If you separate the seeds the way Joseph described, then the seeds hold far less water since they are thoroughly dried out and dormant.



Yes, just the seeds and they looked really clean and dry.

Robin Katz wrote:
On a different note, you said you dry your herbs in the oven. In my experience, this method results in a less pungent dried herb due to the volatile components being driven off by the heating process. I now dry my herbs on a towel in the garage where it is cool, dry, and dark-ish. Even the parsley keeps a really strong flavor this way. I dry a lot of medicinal herbs too and processing conditions with those are very important in order to keep the quality high. Heat, light, and oxygen all have a tendency to deteriorate the quality of culinary and medicinal herbs.



Yes, and to make it worse my oven only goes down to 170 degrees F. 95-100 would be I think the ideal for basil, but sun drying is okay too, or the cool/dry/dark garage as you said.

Funny you mention parsley because it particularly changed taste and quality, where-as the basil tastes good but loses more color than I'd like if it's dried in the oven. Same with onion chives, very easy to burn them up.
 
Emily Elizabeth
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Tj Jefferson wrote:I’m much lazier. I do basil in the same place each year, and I usually just let a few go to seed and let them stratify in place. If I want a new are I take the whole seed head and put it where they will be next spring. This works fantastic for cilantro, parsley, basil, dill. Only OK for others I have tried.



Yes, I used to live in Texas and did this as well, it came back with no issues every year. There were some here in my flower bed where I'd mixed it in with a wildflower mix the previous summer (I've lived in ND almost 4 years) and I was shocked that it came back, considering the zone I am in, but a few did. Some stuff is really hearty, my raspberries are not the right type for this zone either but they come back on their own every year.
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