Yesterday I harvested and processed basil. It’s one of those jobs that looks kind of overwhelming at first but ends up being fun, with a nice reward at the end. I freeze basil in one or two cup containers that I can pull out about once a month to use as I need it. This year I also tried drying it in the oven with great results. Of course now I want to dry every herb that I’m growing, and I’m pretty sure that I will! I think I’ll love reaching for my own oregano, basil, thyme, dill and sage when I’m cooking in January!
The day started with a trip out to the garden to bring in my first bunch of basil. I like to cut it as I go to avoid wilt and so that it’s as fresh as possible when it goes into the freezer. This also gives me wiggle room if I have to stop to run a kid somewhere or make lunch.
I wash it thoroughly, a handful or two at a time. Sometimes I dry with towels if I’m really flying along time-wise. Usually it can sit for a few minutes to dry off while I’m working on something else.
To take the leaves off the stem I lay it flat and slice in a straight line. I still cut some leaves off individually, but I find that I can get a lot done quickly if I kind of “power chop” it like this.
I put it into plastic containers to freeze and it’s done! I try to fill to the top to prevent freezer burn and make good use of space. I’ve found that it will keep for up to a year. Experts might recommend less than a year, but I was still pulling basil out in June and it was just fine.
As I mentioned earlier I also ventured into drying some basil. When I started this cookie sheet was covered with leaves (and a few bunches of leaves). I used the “warm” setting on my oven (a GE Profile) to dry this in about an hour and a half. I set the kitchen timer after an hour and checked it every ten minutes or so. It reached a point where it was clearly ready to crumble. There was no moisture left at all!
I simply crumbled it as soon as it came to room temperature and this was the result. It smells great and looks just like dried basil! I’m hoping for great flavor, we’ll see!
I also made a big pot of pesto… we’ll enjoy pasta with pesto and fresh tomatoes tonight.
Have I mentioned that I really, really love summer?
- Dinner Tonight: 15-Minute Pesto (thestitcherati.com)
- Backyard Feast: Introducing home and locally grown food into your life (ballardnewstribune.com)