*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.

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I am happy to report, I have finished processing our first round of Holy Basil! After 4 months of work from seeding, to planting, to harvesting,  and finally processing, we have samples that are ready to go to the lab for analysis. The processing took about 4 times longer than expected, per usual. But everything went smoothly and I will tell you all about it.

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After harvesting, we air-dried the samples for 2 weeks. We had a dehumidifier in the room to keep the moisture level down while they were drying. We knew they were dry when we crushed leaves between our fingers and they crumbled.

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Here is my set-up for processing. A scale, big bowls, paper for data collection and brown paper bags to store the finished samples.

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First I had to take the bundles off the rack, 1 plant at a time. This plant we harvested was pretty big, so we had to divide into two bundles for drying.

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I took off the wire hanger, untied the bundle, and took off the tags.

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I used 3 paper bags to collect the tags, ties and wire so I can reuse them for the next time I harvest.

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Then I weighed each plant and recorded the dry weight.

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You can read about how we set-up the study design for planting in my post, Holy Basil Research: Planting July 2015. We had six plants per group, so we had to record weights for each plant individually in the group, and then the total leaf/flower weight for the group. In these series of photos I am working on the group K(9). K  is where the group is placed in the field, and 9 corresponds to the variety of Holy Basil. Also, I will start calling each group a ‘sample’ because all the leaves and flowers from the six plants in a group will go into one sample for the lab.

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Once I had all the individual plant weights in K(9), I put them all together and stripped off the leaves. According to the research I have read, there is negligible amounts of essential oils and antioxidants in the stems, so we removed them to prepare our herb samples for the lab.

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Once we finished stripping the leaves, we recorded the total weight of leaf and flower for the sample K(9).

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We saved the stems to give to my friend for a bonfire.

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Then we labelled brown paper bags.

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And filled the bags.

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And lined them up in boxes.

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Once I finished bagging up the sample K(9) I had to clean up the area, wipe out the bowls and wipe down the table so the next sample wouldn’t get contaminated.

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Once everything was set up again, I moved on to the next sample on the list J(2).

Untie, weigh, record (x6 for each sample), strip the leaves, weigh, record,  bag, clean and repeat. And repeat. And repeat.

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It took us about 30 minutes to process each sample, and I had to do 42 of them. This is after the first day, when I was halfway done.

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This is after the second day.

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I was really thankful for my helper, Nicole. She did a great job!

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At the end of the third day, we finally finished our first round of processing, and had a sheet full of numbers to prove it.

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We rounded up someone from the field to take our picture and proudly held up our first round of samples. We are now ready to begin our work in the lab.

This was our first round of holy basil, but we are taking a second cutting from the plants in the field to get another set of data. So we will repeat the entire operation of harvesting and processing once more before November. Because, the more data the better :).

To learn more about my research you can visit my page, Holy Basil Research to see all my posts about grad school.

Have you ever processed herbs? What are your favorite ones to process?