We have narrowed down our successful summer gardening choices to tomatoes and basil. Eggplants were bitter, zucchini took up too much room and peppers were hit and miss. And we had to fight the critters to harvest any of those. We have some success with other crops in the spring and fall, but tomatoes and basil are it for us for the summer.
In case you aren’t an herb gardener, basil likes to be used. After you cut off stems, it sends out new shoots around the cut edges, making the plant bushier and more prolific. I have made a few batches of pesto this summer, and used a few leaves here and there as I needed them.
I haven’t used much basil over the past few weeks, so the plants were getting out of control. I decided to do one big harvest and build up my freezer basil stash. I took my kitchen shears out to the garden and started cutting bunches of basil, throwing them behind me into a pile. When it was time to haul it all to the house it took two trips to get it all.
After it took me almost half an hour to wash and de-stem the basil, I realized I needed to pick the quickest preserving method possible. I really wanted a way to preserve the fresh basil flavor for the winter. I didn’t need to make pesto for that, so I decided to chop all the basil in the food processor with a little olive oil.
I dolloped the bright green, concentrated basil puree onto parchment lined cookie sheets and froze it until solid. Then I peeled off the frozen basil patties and tossed them in a ziplock bag to keep for the winter.
A few more days and the basil will have enough new shoots for another harvest. I think I’ll go check on it again.