Can I plant the basil from Sun Aqua Farms?

While our living basil does include the root ball, it is not intended for replanting. The roots are kept on the plant to lengthen shelf life and provide the freshest possible plant to you.

Our basil is grown hydroponically, which means it is grown solely in a moving water and nutrient solution and the roots have never been in the soil. The nutrients we feed the plants are easy for the plant to absorb. Should you plant the basil in the soil, a whole new set of roots would have to develop for the plant to thrive; sometimes it works and other times it doesn't. There would be no harm in trying if you so choose.

If you decide to try, it would be best to take almost all the leaves off the tops of the plants and cut the stems back by 2/3. The size of the pot really does not matter, just make sure you use a good quality soil mix, perhaps with a wetting agent mixed in to help keep the soil moist. It is important to keep the soil moist and not to let it dry out. Try using a liquid soluble fertilizer (such as Miracle Gro) and follow the directions on the container. It would be best not to have the potted basil in the direct sun as the soil tends to dry out rapidly. Find a bright, warm area, out of direct sunlight to place the pot.

How long does the plant last?

While our basil is intended for immediate culinary use, it is good to know how long it will be available. As long as the basil plant is cared for properly, we generally say the plant will last a little over a week from harvest. We have had customers contact us to tell us that they have kept the plant alive and usable for much, much longer. (One customer even told us that she kept the plant alive for nearly 6 months!)

How do I care for the plant to make it last as long as possible?

The basil plant is very sensitive to cold temperatures. As such, it cannot be refrigerated. Basil that has been too cold will develop black or dark spots on the leaves and will wilt and die very quickly.

The best way to store basil is at room temperature, out of direct sunlight. We also recommend that you remove the plant from the recycleable plastic sleeve and place it in a glass container with just enough water to cover the roots. (Too much water will cause the stems to rot.) If you'd like, you can also put in a drop or two of food grade (USP) 3% hydrogen peroxide (the type often found in the brown bottles in the pharmacy). This will help provide the plant with oxygen. Additionally, changing the water daily will help keep the plant fresh.

There is a lot of basil in the package. What if I can't use it all before the plant dies?

There are a few things you can do to extend your enjoyment of Sun Aqua Farms' basil: First, you can remove the leaves and freeze them. After freezing, the leaves will be darker and will crumble, but they taste just as great as fresh leaves. We recommend using frozen basil leaves in sauces. You could also chop them up and mix them with olive oil and freeze in ice cube trays. Another idea is to make some basil infused oil that can be used in many different recipes.

If you have a method that you have had success with, please feel free to share them with us!

How is basil used?

Basil is commonly used fresh in cooked recipes. It is generally added at the last moment, as cooking quickly destroys the flavor. The fresh herb can be kept at room temperature, or for a later use, the leaves can be frozen for use in cooking. The dried herb also loses most of its flavor, and what little flavor remains tastes very different, with a weak coumarin flavor, like hay. Basil is one of the main ingredients in pesto;a green Italian oil & herb sauce. Its other two main ingredients are olive oil and pine nuts. For a great pesto recipe see our recipes page.

Is Sun Aqua basil organic?

Sun Aqua Farms Fresh Basil is not certified organic. Obtaining organic certification for hydroponics can be difficult if not impossible in many instances. According to Wikipedia..."Some states in the USA require soil as an essential to obtain organic certification. There are also overlapping and somewhat contradictory rules established by the US Federal Government, so some food grown with hydroponics can be certified organic."

While not certified organic, Sun Aqua Farms does use alternative pest control methods such as introducing live lady bugs which eat harmful pests, as well as IPM methods which include designing the growing facility to decrease and deter pests without the use of chemicals. See more information on our About Us page.

What does it mean that the basil is grown hydroponically?

Hydroponics is a faster, cleaner, safer, more sustainable form of agriculture. A larger and larger share of the produce found in your local grocery store is grown hydroponically, particularly herbs, lettuces, and tomatoes.

According to Wikipedia...

Hydroponics (from the Greek words hydro meaning water and ponos meaning labor) is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, in water, without soil. Terrestrial plants may be grown with their roots in the mineral nutrient solution only or in an inert medium, such as perlite, gravel, or mineral wool.

Researchers discovered in the 19th century that plants absorb essential mineral nutrients as inorganic ions in water. In natural conditions, soil acts as a mineral nutrient reservoir but the soil itself is not essential to plant growth. When the mineral nutrients in the soil dissolve in water, plant roots are able to absorb them. When the required mineral nutrients are introduced into a plant's water supply artificially, soil is no longer required for the plant to thrive. Almost any terrestrial plant will grow hydroponically.

How is hydroponic agriculture more sustainable than conventional (field or soil grown) agriculture?

Hydroponics conserves water and reduces land usage. If well managed, hydroponics can use as little as 10% of the water necessary to grow crops conventionally. Additionally, hydroponics can produce much more food per acre and output can often continue throughout the year because of the temperature and nutrient controlled environment of a greenhouse. It is becoming and will continue to be a huge part of feeding the growing population of the planet.

What are the benefits of basil?

Recently, there has been much research into the health benefits conferred by the essential oils found in basil. Scientific studies have established that compounds in basil oil have potent antioxidant, anti-cancer, anti-viral, and anti-microbial properties. In addition, basil has been shown to decrease the occurrence of platelet aggregation and experimental thrombus in mice. It is traditionally used for supplementary treatment of stress, asthma and diabetes in India.