Even though we don’t want to be the first to say it, somehow the summer is coming to an end…One of the things we have enjoyed during this hot summer season is our garden. We have been absolutely crazy about our fresh veggies, and are so grateful for all our wonderful crops. But while some things went all too fast (we ate our cherry tomatoes right off the vine in about 5 minutes), there are some that seem to be never-ending. We planted our basil plants around mid-June, and after only a month our backyard is covered in it!
What is better than the aroma of fresh basil? There is nothing like inhaling a fresh handful of it…a smell that invigorates body, mind, and spirit. But what to do with all that basil when your 3-inch seedlings grow into 3-foot bushes? Of course we have spoiled ourselves many times with quite the summer recipe of ripe tomatoes simmered into a sauce with sprinkles of basil…our family’s famous greensauce pesto with gnocchi…the perfect caprese salad, fresh basil julienned on top…mmm.
But no matter how much we ate…it just seemed to keep growing! We figured we needed to come up with a plan. And so, we thought of some of the most satisfying ways to preserve your basil crop. When life gets a little crazy (cause don’t we know, it does!) and you start to get a little overwhelmed and don’t want to waste that great basil in your backyards…here are a couple options we love:
Some Satisfying Ways to Preserve Your Basil
- Dry it. This is an easy and simple option for your bunches of basil, but obviously it loses some of its vitality. We do think this is a great choice to replace our bottled store-bought dry basil. The easiest method is using a food dehydrator (we use a Sedona dehydrator), but of course not everyone has one of those. No worries, a traditional oven can also be used. Turn your oven on to the lowest possible setting (so the high heat doesn’t damage the essential oils in the basil). Once it’s warm, turn off the oven and place your basil inside on a cookie sheet. Leave the basil in the oven for an hour. Turn the oven back onto the lowest setting for 10-15 minutes. Repeat every hour until the herb is brittle. You can also hang dry bunches of basil, upside-down by the stem in a warm, dry, well-ventilated room for a week or more. Once the basil is brittle to the touch it’s ready.
- Freeze it. Blanch fresh leaves to destroy enzymes that would normally turn the basil black over time. Then, pack thin layers in plastic bags or containers. This is awesome to use in recipes for a subtle flavor, but don’t expect this to pack the same punch as fresh basil.
- Make precursor to pesto.Blend 2 cups basil, 1 large clove of garlic and enough olive oil to process together. This can then be refrigerated or frozen in useful-size batches. If storing in the refrigerator, be sure to top the pesto mixture with a ½ inch layer of olive oil to help preserve it. We can’t lie; it’s pretty satisfying to pull one of these out in the middle of the winter! Add some cherry tomatoes and mozzarella for an even bigger treat.
And our latest obsession: BASIL SALT!
We were so excited to recently discover basil salt…it is so, so easy, lasts indefinitely and can be used for so many yummy recipes!
- Mix ½ cup basil leaves, chopped fine, with 2 tbsp. of kosher salt and store in sealed jar. Voila!
- For ours we used Redmond Real Salt (Kosher Sea Salt) and made 4 times the recipe (2 cups basil leaves, 8 tbsp. salt) ending up with ½ pint jar.
Anytime you need basil and salt together in a dish, this is the perfect secret ingredient to use for that mouth-watering taste of summer basil. And as if it were still on the plant…open that jar, containing your perfect emerald salt, and there’s that aroma of fresh basil we love!
How do you preserve your summer crops? Tell us about it!
Light & Love