Friday, June 11, 2010

Food Day Friday: freezing fresh basil

We love eating pesto.

Last year I had all these grand ideas about the multitudes of basil we'd have in the garden. and all the pesto we'd be whipping up in the kitchen. not a single basil plant survived in last year's garden. no multitudes of leaves. no leaves at all.

This year I planted 4 basil seeds instead of 2 ... Then just to hedge my bets, I bought 2 basil plants at wal-mart. There was no room in the garden so they are in a planter in the driveway (optimum spot for exactly 6 hours of sun a day -- I'm dreaming of multitudes of basil again)

We currently have 2 healthy growing basil plants in the actual garden (from the seeds I planted) AND almost 6 from the two pots I bought.

the planter basil needed a harvest. so I made basil butter. that helped.

a few days later ... lots of big leaves ready to be picked.

I decided to pick everything that was ready and I'd freeze them.

This is the method of freezing I decided on.

I picked and rinsed all the leaves to get any dirt off them (this would be a good time to have a salad spinner) I ended up having 8 loosely packed cups. Perfect. That's how big my blender is - 8 cups.

This is what the plants looked like 3 days after the great harvest. You can tell there are already a few leaves that could be picked.

I put 1 tablespoon of olive oil in for every cup of basil. Next time, I'll probably use less olive oil. (maybe. I haven't decided yet)

I put the puree in my baby food freezer containers. (score. I'm so glad I still have those) If you don't have baby food freezer containers you can use ice cube trays and cover with plastic wrap. My 8 cups of basil and 8 tablespoons of olive oil produced almost 8 ounces of puree.

freeze. remove puree from tray and put in freezer bag.

I'm sure all of these cubes will be made into pesto. (Our Sam's Club has a great buy on pine nuts) Now I just need to start looking at pesto recipes for my already proportioned quantities.

EDIT: this is what a friend does with her basil and pesto. Good alternative if you don't have ice trays (or baby food trays)
I freeze pesto in muffin tins (spray with cooking spray first) and put the "pesto muffins" in freezer bags.

The large muffin tins are a good size for a dinner and the mini-muffin tins work great to pop into a pot of tomato sauce or anywhere else you want a blast of basil.

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