Thursday, June 21, 2012

Basil: Harvesting and Preserving our Bounty

This is the post where I gush about my love of a simple little herb called basil. If that's not your style you may want to just skip along because my love for this little green leaf runs pretty deep and that may lead to rambling.

You see, one day a couple years back E found this giant steel washtub on the side of the road, in somebody's garbage. I don't know what kind of mental instability it takes to throw out such a treasure, but I'm sure glad it was the case. Since it's arrival it has been my go-to herb growing container and this year I decided basil would rule the palace and keep all acreage to herself. I assure you this was one of my wisest decisions yet, for look at the bounty.

After only harvesting these plants a few weeks ago I was once again left with an enormous amount of leaves and stems this time around. An entire four-quart mixing bowl full in fact.

In order to try and stretch our bounty out to last the whole year through I used this batch to begin my preservation efforts. I hung two hefty bunches in the kitchen window where they will be left to dry. After a couple of weeks, or however long they take to get sufficiently crisp, I will remove the leaves one by one and store them in a large glass jar to be crumbled into soups, pastas, and various other culinary delights throughout the year. I'm sure we will add more and more leaves too as our harvests continue.

The remaining leaves were tossed into our large food processor and whirred around with olive oil until they made a paste, being transferred into an ice-cube tray and popped into the freezer after that. I had heard about this method many times, but had yet to try it, and am still uncertain how I feel about all this, although I am sure I'll be glad to have one or two of these to toss into a dish when there's snow on the ground this winter.

Now it is back to waiting for the next harvest time and dreaming of the basil lemonade to come, as I forgot to save any back during this go-round. Oh, and rest assured this isn't the last you will hear of from the garden, for there are some monstrous cucumber plants overtaking their trellis and it looks as if their blossoms will be turning to fruit before we know what hit us. With the amount of seeds I have sown you better bet I'll be in a pickle and relish making frenzy before too long.

Are you growing or preserving anything this season?


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  1. I love basil in all forms and especially basil lemonade!  I like to throw some strawberries in there too.  Also!  My parents gave me this mini basil that they found at home depot.  The leaves are really tiny and fragrant so you don't have to chop them- just sprinkle.  It's amazing.  You should look for it!

  2. Basil.... sooooooooooooooooooo good.  We especially like to load it onto naan bread pizzas warmed through on the BBQ.  My tummy is rumbling!  Great use for that free find galvanized tub!  And pickles too... my Mom used to preserve bread & butter pickles... thanks for the memory.

  3. Beautiful basil you're growing! Anything with tomatoes and basil is perfection in my book :) Congrats on nearing your 3rd trimester of pregnancy too!

  4. Thank you all around. We're doing all kinds of growing around here, babies and produce! :)

  5. Those pizzas sound incredible. Oh, and there will be lots of bread and butter pickles, my favorite. :)

  6. Oh man, me and basil, such good pals. I've even had basil soap before if you can believe it. I'll definitely keep my eye out for tiny basil. These were all just started from seed, but I'm not opposed to buying a plant or two.

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