We survived hurricane Irene without a hitch. It was the first time our area had been threatened since Max was born and truth be told I was very anxious. We prepared as good as we knew how and hunkered down. I am so thankful that we had no real damage, nor did we lose electricity. We were truly blessed.
What was left of my garden fared nearly as well, the peppers are still standing and promising to give me a few more before calling it quits for the season. I had grown basil between my tomato plants and when the tomatoes were finished and removed, the basil took over. It was waist high and resembled a shrubbery rather than an herb. It did not weather the high winds quite as well as the rest of us. Upon going out and assessing the damage I found the basil laying on its side. I had meant to harvest it for some time so now was as good as any.
Preserving herbs is very easy and very rewarding during those winter months when everything outside is brown and dry. The more hardy herbs (rosemary, thyme, oregano) do well tied into bunches and hung to dry. Once all the moisture is gone seal them in an airtight container and they will keep for up to a year. The more delicate herbs (basil, mint, tarragon) do best frozen. You can place whole or chopped leaves in a ice cube tray, cover with a little water and freeze. Once frozen pop out of the tray and place in freezer bag, thaw as you need.
My favorite way to preserve Basil is homemade pesto. I love being able to add that summertime freshness to meals in the dead of winter.
All the measurements are approximate. This recipe should really be adapted to you personal taste. Remember, I was working with an ungodly amount of basil, so you may have to adjust the portions according to however much you have.
8 cups washed basil leaves, stems removed. (makes about 2 cups chopped basil)
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup Olive oil
1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese
4 medium cloves Garlic
salt to taste
Add Pine nuts, Parmesan, Garlic, and Salt.
Process until desired consistency. If it seems dry, add more oil.
At this point TASTE, TASTE, TASTE. Make needed adjustments, I always end up adding more salt and cheese.
Now you have homemade pesto in convenient portions that will be approximately 1 oz. each. Ready to used to season chicken, accompany pasta, or spruce up sauces.
I bet you’re wondering what I did with all the left over basil (yes, there was left over basil). Turns out it makes a very fragrant, if not colorful centerpiece!