Holy Basil Fall Harvest and Processing 2015

*This post is part of a series of posts based on my research as a masters student at UGA. To find out more go to my page Holy Basil Research.

Hmm, it seems like my last post was in September, so let’s catch up really quickly. Happy Halloween. Merry Christmas. Happy New year! I blinked and all of October, November and December just passed me by.  So much has happened that I want to tell you about. I have a few days before the spring semester classes start, and I made a goal to try to write 5 posts in 5 days to catch you up on what has happened since my last research update in September (has it really been that long? I still can’t believe it).

Let’s pick up where we left off. I had just posted about my first harvest and processing of holy basil. What I am now calling my ‘summer’ harvest. Approximately 8 weeks later on Oct 24th and 25th we performed a second and final harvest of the year, what I call the ‘fall’ harvest.


The plants grew back beautifully and thrived in our warm Sept/Oct weather in Georgia.


We went through and cut back at 15 cm just like the first time.


We harvested each plant separately and kept them separate in stainless steel bowls.


We recorded the mass of each plant.


Then we created labels and separated them for bundling.


Some plants were so big we needed to split them into multiple bundles so they would air dry evenly and not get moldy in the middle.


We filled up the two racks in the kitchen just like last time, but we were not prepared for a harvest that was almost twice the amount of the first harvest.


We had to move into the dry room at the garden since we ran out of space in the kitchen and had to make lots more hangers to hang up the bundles of holy basil.


I had lots of great volunteers to help me!



We filled up 2 rooms full of holy basil. It was a sight to see and as you can imagine, very fragrant!


It took about 3 weeks for it to dry since they was so much in the room.


Then we processed all the dry plants by taking a dry mass of each plant, and stripping the leaves and flowers off the stem and discarding the stems.


We processed for days…






…and days  until we finally had an empty room with just a few leaves on the floor left to sweep up.


Once all the leaves and flowers were stripped off for each plant sample we weighed out 100 grams to put in foil food safe bags. Previously we stored the dried plant material in paper bags but that was a bad idea because it gets exposed to humidity and can get contaminated with any smells lingering in the environment. So we transferred all the plant samples from paper bags from the summer harvest to foil lined bags so everything stayed consistent and the plant samples were protected from moisture, oxidation and other forces in the environment.


We labeled each bag with the time of harvest – F(fall), the repetition – 2, the plant and where it was located in the field – B(12).


After 40+ hours of work we had a table full of samples from our fall harvest.


They got boxed up and samples from both the summer and fall harvest are being stored in a freezer to keep them stable until we are ready to take them to the lab for distillation. Tomorrow I will post about building the protocol for distillation!

To read more about my experience in graduate school, check out my page Holy Basil Research!

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