Monday, October 15, 2012

Enjoying Your Garden Basil All Winter Long


 I love basil! So much so that just tonight I told my husband if Yankee Candle came out with a basil-scented candle, I'd buy it. To me, there's nothing like the smell of fresh basil. 

Knowing that colder temperatures will soon be upon us, the thought of my healthy and bountiful basil dying outside makes me almost as sad as hearing we're out of coffee! I definitely wanted to find a way to preserve my basil so I can use it all throughout the winter months in soups, stews, sautés, and my favorite, "pesto"!  I didn't harvest all of the basil just yet, because I still love using the fresh leaves in a lot of my recipes; so soon, I will be moving my basil indoors. 

Tonight I harvested and preserved about 8 cups of fresh basil leaves, and it's one of the easiest things I've ever done. It would have been about 10 cups of fresh basil but I couldn't do anything without first making up a batch of one of my favorite appetizers ever... BRUSCHETTA! It's really more of an entree for me since I eat so much of it.

Getting back to preserving basil, there are several ways to accomplish this. The method I used was adding the 8 cups of leaves (stems removed) into a food processor and pulsing the basil while drizzling about 1 1/2 to 2 Tablespoons of olive oil into the mixture. Without the olive oil, the basil leaves will blacken in the freezer. After pulsing the leaves until all the oil is combined throughout, place the mixture into a gallon-sized freezer bag, sealing the bag while pushing out as much of the air as you can. Flatten the mixture to fit about 1/3 of the bag -- into a rectangular shape.

The best part about preserving the basil leaves this way is once the mixture is frozen, you can break or cut off any amount you desire to be added to your favorite recipes. The basil will last up to 6 months in the freezer. 

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