Herbal Harvest: Basil and More...

comments (5) September 30th, 2016

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cookinwithherbs susan belsinger, contributor
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These are a gardeners basil-pickin fingers. If you use your thumb and forefinger to pinch off the leaves from the stems, they will turn brown for a few days. This is a good thing...Click on other pix to enlarge and read captions.
At the end of the season, I pull the basil plants from the garden earth, cut off their rootballs and put them in the compost and then I work on removing leaves from the stems.
Comminuting the leaves takes some time; I usually sit with a bowl for the leaves and a basket for the stems and bad leaves, which will go in the compost. If you use your thumb and forefinger to pinch them off, they will turn brown for a few days.
Getting set up here to make aromatic herbal pastes for the freezer. I do mine in the food processor, which is quick and easy. Use containers that are suitable for freezing.
A food processor makes fast work to coarsely chop basil leaves for an aromatic paste. A whole load of basil leaves chops down to just about 2 cups!
Pulse the basil with the olive oil to make a coarsely chopped paste: do not puree.
Once chopped, the basil should be coated with oil though not floating. Transfer the paste to smaller containers.
Fill containers leaving some headspace since contents expand when frozen. Drizzle a thin layer of olive oil over the top which will keep the basil from oxidizing and turning brown. Be sure to label herbal pastes because they all look the same when frozen.
Pastes are made, packed and labeled and ready to go into the freezer.
Herbal vinegars are simple infusions which capture the essence of herbs and edible blooms. They are easy to make and are wonderful to have on hand in the kitchen. This 4-basil vinegar is one I make every year, combining Genoa Green, Mrs. Burns Lemon, Thai and Opal basils in white wine vinegar for a colorful and tasty condiment.
Besides basil there are many other tender annual herbs that make lovely vinegars. One of my faves is nasturtium vinegar, which is peppery like watercress and will brighten any salad in the colder weather.
One of the most delightful things about nasturtium vinegar is that it takes on the color of the blossoms overnight. Cheery red, orange and lavender-hued herb vinegars brighten the pantry as well as the palate in winter months.
These are a gardeners basil-pickin fingers. If you use your thumb and forefinger to pinch off the leaves from the stems, they will turn brown for a few days. This is a good thing...Click on other pix to enlarge and read captions.Click To Enlarge

These are a gardener's basil-pickin' fingers. If you use your thumb and forefinger to pinch off the leaves from the stems, they will turn brown for a few days. This is a good thing...
Click on other pix to enlarge and read captions.

Photo: Susan Belsinger

It's that time to gather in the last basil harvest--as well as any other tender herbs--because they will go with the first frost. There are a few things that I do with an abundance of basil. First off, I make pesto and I enjoy it on pasta, pizza, sandwiches and tomatoes. http://www.vegetablegardener.com/item/6194/basic-pesto-recipe

I must say that basil is one of my favorite herbs, therefore I grow it in large quantity. 'Genoa Green' or similar cultivars are the ones I cultivate the most of. Every year, I always grow 'Mrs. Burns' Lemon Basil', a few opal basil varieties, some cultivar of 'Thai' basil, and I truly love the aesthetics of 'African Blue' basil in the garden and arrangements although I do not use it culinarily.

I posted a video/recipe for making your own aromatic herbal pastes in my last blog. Of course , I do dry some basil so that I have it for winter tomato sauces and soups. If you want to dry basil, here's a link http://www.vegetablegardener.com/item/3759/video-how-to-dry-herbs

Every season, I prepare numerous herbal vinegars. One of the ones that I particularly enjoy is a basil vinegar created with a combination of basils--it is wonderfully flavored and since i include opal basil in the combination, it is a lovely shade of lavender. http://www.vegetablegardener.com/item/15513/how-to-make-an-herbal-vinegar

Get out there and harvest the tender annual and perennial herbs and preserve them for the cold weather ahead! Don't let them go to waste when there are so many ways to preserve them. Dry some, make aromatic herbal pastes or herbal vinegars--don't forget herbal syrups, tinctures and shrubs!

 


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posted in: basil, pesto, aromatic herbal pastes, herb vinegars

Comments (5)

Angelawilliams writes: Very knowledgeable article for me/
Posted: 1:21 am on November 7th
GiannaDow writes: work well done
Posted: 1:03 am on October 21st
Zacionafalidaa writes: Nice work...
Posted: 1:38 am on October 13th
cookinwithherbs writes: yes--some of us love livin the herbal life. once you grow em--you are hooked! there are so many ways to preserve them and it is such a pleasure to savor them!

Posted: 4:19 pm on October 11th
AlexanderSmith1969 writes: Insane article, herbal harvest is my passion. I want more!
Posted: 3:34 pm on October 2nd
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