Thursday, April 25, 2019

What do you do with lime basil?

By Michele Koskinen

Growing different varieties of basil has been fun, and using it has been an adventure.

Lime basil can be used in drinks, pies, sorbets, with chicken and in salads. Search for lime basil recipes and up pops interesting recipes to try.

Today's recipe take us to summer and a cool refreshing treat.

Summer Time Lime Basil Sorbet Recipe

What would summer be without something cold and refreshing? And, if you have a nice supply of fresh basil -- or even better some fresh lime basil leaves -- don’t you want a cool recipe to use them with?
How about lime basil sorbet or frozen pops? And, what if you could alter the recipe to fit the kitchen gadgets you already had? Of course, this recipe could just be the best ammunition to convince yourself you need an ice cream maker, blender or new finely-meshed sieve.
Let’s get started.

The ingredients…
  • 2 cups of fresh lime basil leaves (you can use sweet basil leaves too), gently packed or a nice-sized, wrapped bundle with stems
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • 1 cup sugar – you might want to increase or decrease to taste but changing the quantity may impact how your sorbet will freeze
  • 3 ¼ water

The choices for making the juice…

Method 1 – Blending
If you would like your lime basil sorbet to have a pretty green color, blanch the basil leaves in boiling water for about 10 seconds. Drain off the water and quickly plunge the basil into cold water to stop the cooking process. Remove the leaves from the cold bath and they’re ready to be turned into a cool, refreshing treat.
Put all of the ingredients, including the 3 ¼ cups of water, into a blender on high speed for about 60 seconds or until smooth. Strain the liquid through a fine-meshed strainer to remove the unblended bits of basil leaves and stems.

Method 2 – Steeping
If you don’t have a blender or if your strainer may not catch the little blended pieces, you can go old school. Put the sugar and water into a pan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, throw in the lime basil bundle and remove pan from the heat. Let steep for around 15 minutes (longer if you want a stronger basil flavor). Strain. Add the lime juice once the mixture cools. Don’t forget the lime juice or your sorbet won’t be as tasty.

Method 1 – The easiest way to create a nice, creamy sorbet is to use an ice cream maker. Process until the mixture looks like a firm slushy. Scoop the semi-frozen mixture into a freezer-safe container and freeze until it can be served using an ice-cream scoop.

Method 2 – If you do not have an ice cream maker, you can still create a true sorbet texture. Place the mixture into an air-tight container in the freezer. When it is frozen to a semi-solid state, mash it with a fork and return to the freezer. Once frozen, use a blender or food processor to ‘cream’ up the sorbet. Can be refrozen until served.

Method 3 – Maybe you don’t have an ice cream maker and method 2 just sounds like too much of a nuisance…why not make frozen juice pops? If you already have a set of molds, just pour the lime basil mixture into them, freeze and enjoy.

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner; Styling: Cindy Barr 
Lime Basil Sorbet
Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1/2 cup) By JOANNE WEIR July 2009  
A traditional salt and ice electric freezer works best for this sorbet, as opposed to a tabletop freezer, which won't freeze the mixture firmly enough. Use sweet Italian or lemon basil or lime basil. 

1 1/2 cups sugar 
2 cups fresh lime juice, divided (about 15 limes) 
1/2 cup light- colored corn syrup 
3/4 cup packed basil leaves, coarsely chopped 
2 cups water 
1 tablespoon grated lime rind 
How to Make It 
Combine sugar, 1 cup juice, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook 2 minutes or until sugar melts, stirring constantly. Stir in basil. Cook 30 seconds. Remove from heat. Pour mixture into a bowl. Add remaining 1 cup juice, 2 cups water, and 1 tablespoon rind. Cover and chill. Strain mixture through a fine sieve; discard solids. Pour mixture into a freezer can of an ice-cream freezer; freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. Spoon mixture into a freezer-safe container; cover and freeze 1 hour or until firm. Garnish with finely grated rind, if desired. Finely grated lime rind (optional)

Other links for recipes:


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

One-of-a-kind planters from Master Gardener Kay

For the second year in a row, Philadelphia master gardener & local artist Kay N. has created a handful of unique ceramic planters, which will be on sale at Sunday’s Garden Day & Plant Sale.

ceramic planters with plants

Kay created these planters specifically for the plant sale, and you won’t find them anywhere else! Handmade ceramic garden stakes, prearranged planters and garden tools will also be available for purchase at the green elephant table. These items sell quickly, so come out early to grab one for your home or for gifts.

All proceeds from sales made during the plant sale benefit the Penn State Extension Philadelphia Master Gardener programs and community outreach.

The 2019 Garden Day & Plant Sale will be held from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at the Horticulture Center in Fairmount Park. Come rain or shine! For more information, visit
our website.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Garden Day and Plant Sale: Worth the Drive

Karen Primble

Like many other thrifty gardeners, I am always on the hunt for a great deal.  So, I go to a lot of flea markets and yard sales.  As I search for deals, I always try to ascertain if the bargains are worth the drive.  I can honestly confirm, this sale is worth the drive!
The 2019 Garden Day and Plant Sale is just two weeks away.  You’ll want to add this event to your schedule.  The variety of vegetables for sale is impressive.  You will be able to choose from thirty varieties of tomatoes.  Looking for heirlooms?  Twenty of the thirty tomato varieties are heirlooms.    Looking for a hybrid variety?  This sale has those, too.
Several varieties have interesting back stories.  The Rutgers 250 Schermerhorn, for example, is being touted as a “new heirloom.”  The Rutgers tomato, first made famous by Campbell’s Soup Co. years ago, has come to be known as the quintessential Jersey tomato.  This seed pays homage to the original; you be the judge.
Sun Gold remains our best-selling cherry tomato year after year because of its sweet, delicious flavor.  But this year, you might want to check out the Artisan Series cherry-type tomato.  Some are round and stripy; others are blush-colored and long and pointed.  All are super cool-looking and seriously do taste as great as they look.  Artisan performs well as a container plant, too.

You might want to add a plum/paste tomato to your garden this year.  Some think plum tomatoes are used exclusively for canning.  Actually, plum tomatoes tend to be meatier and have fewer seeds than beefsteak varieties.  For this reason, they are fantastic for salsa, as well as, sauce.  Jersey Devil is a plum tomato that performs well in our area, prolifically supplying sweet, sausage-shaped tomatoes all season long. 

Try adding a little color to your garden this summer.  We have a number of uniquely-colored beefsteak varieties for sale this year.  Ranging from the enormous, yellow Pineapple (fruit can weigh up to 2 pounds) to the hybrid Chef’s Choice Green, to the bi-colored stripes of the heirloom Mr. Stripey.

Of course, you will also find herbs, lettuces, eggplant, peppers, and kale.  The Green Elephant Table promises to provide some great gardening treasures.  You can be sure to find something wonderful at the Garden Day and Plant Sale in beautiful Fairmount Park on April 28th.  Hope to see you there.  It’s so worth the drive!    

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Save the Date! Spring Plant Sale is April 28, 2019

The Penn State Extension Philadelphia Master Gardeners will hold their 6th annual Garden Day and Plant Sale on Sunday, April 28 2019 from 10am - 2pm at the Horticulture Center in Fairmount Park!


We will be selling a wide variety of affordable seedlings and house plants, as well as herbs, vegetables and more than 25 varieties of tomatoes.

This event is more than just a plant sale. Penn State Extension Philadelphia Master Gardeners will host workshops and demonstrations throughout the day. There’s something for the entire family!

Scheduled workshops and demos include: 

Science in the Garden (ongoing; 10:00 am - 2:00 pm): Science in the Garden features hands-on activities related to climate change, science and the superpowers of plants.

ColorWheels Make & Take (10:00 am - 1:00 pm): Get on the ColorWheels bus! Children of all ages will enjoy this arts and crafts activity that connects the world of the garden to artistic expression.

Edible and Useful Flowers (10:15 am - 10:45 am): Join the Philadelphia Orchard Project (POP) for a talk on the culinary and medicinal uses of the plants grown in their orchard. Take a guided tour at 11:00 am or 11:30 am, sample teas made from the fruit trees, and then check out the POP plant sale table.

Shake Up Your Salad! (sessions at 10:30 am and 11:15 am): Penn State Extension’s Nutrition Links Coordinator will demonstrate how easy it is to make a healthy, tasty and inexpensive salad. Taste the results yourself, and then visit the plant sale tables for ingredients to make your own.

Bugging Out! Know the Insects in Your Vegetable Garden (11:30 am - 12:15 pm): From pill bugs to mantids and butterflies to cabbage worms--share your insect pest management strategies and learn from others’ experiences too.

Indoor Plants: Beautiful, Beneficial, Sustainable (12:30 pm - 1:15 pm): Learn about the value of indoor houseplants! Have a plant you want more of? Bring it to the workshop—or purchase one at the plant sale—and learn how easy it is to propagate plants. We’ll provide the pots and soil.

Master Gardeners will also be available to answer all your gardening questions, and don’t forget to check out our Edible Landscape Garden and our Certified Pollinator Habitat Garden for inspiration when planning and designing your own home garden.

We hope to see you there! 

This event will be held rain or shine! For more information about the Penn State Extension Philadelphia Master Gardeners’ Garden Day & Plant Sale, visit

For directions and information about the Horticulture Center, visit