In a previous Garden post I mentioned how we tend to run out of fresh basil just before the garden tomatoes are ready.
This year along with the plants we usually buy in the spring I experimented planting some basil seeds in two week intervals hoping to have plenty of basil throughout the summer and to the end of the season.
I recently read about planting the seeds in empty egg shells, out of curiosity and after saving some egg shells decided to give it a try..
The point of growing them in egg shells is that when the plants reach a certain size they can be planted directly into the garden, shell and all which then becomes a source of fertilizer for the young plant. I suppose it can be counted it as my contribution to saving the planet since everything goes back into the earth except for the egg carton of course which eventually finds its way into the recycle bin. The hairnet?…well…
The birds decided to sabotage my efforts by making a meal out of the seeds
so I covered them with a hair net until the little basil plants poked through.
I truly understand no self-respecting basil seed would be caught wearing a hairnet but it was none the less effective since my feathered friends began dining elsewhere.
Lacking much needed gardening experience I placed more than one seed into each egg shell. Too many plants emerged in each shell making it necessary to transplant into a larger pot before transferring to the garden.
Though not true in the original sense of the word I will call these plants my little hatchlings, after all they did emerge from an egg shell!
When my little ones were strong enough to stand on their own a number were planted into a large pot and the rest directly into the garden.
Some were planted beside the parsley, the remainder quite content in keeping the tomato plants company.
It took a while for the small plants to root well in their new environment and for a while I really didn’t think it was going to happen…but it did and now well into the month of August I can say there will be plenty of fresh basil to enjoy with our garden tomatoes.
The irony? Plenty of basil but this has been the worst year for garden tomatoes… ever!
After a trip to the farmer’s market this week I returned home with a bouquet of amazingly fragrant basil. Not being particularly fond of Basil Pesto on our pasta I’ve never made it before. However, my interest in preserving summer basil for adding to tomato sauce and pizza in the winter months led me to search out a good recipe.
I came across so many recipes and opinions on how to make Basil Pesto. Some suggested blanching the basil before making it to retain the bright green colour while others found the basil to lose flavor if blanched. Then there was the question of adding pine or brazil nuts, garlic, parsley or even cheese.
Not knowing exactly what to add in or leave out I decided to get some help… I called my mother.
She made it simple for me…basil, parsley and olive oil, that’s all! You don’t think she had a standard recipe right?
This is how it went…Put some basil and parsley into a food processor and add olive oil until it blends together, so I did, until it was smooth, added a little salt, filled an ice cube tray and placed it in the freezer saving it to bring a little summer into the coming the winter months.
My very first batch of basil pesto…
Basil can also be preserved by freezing the leaves. Although the texture is affected upon defrosting it retains very good flavour. Adding the basil at the very end of the cooking time works best for flavour retention. This goes for fresh basil as well.
Each year I purchase a few Globe Basil plants which have tiny little leaves and are best for preserving in dry form. The small leaves dry very well and are great to sprinkle on pizza along with dry oregano. Dry basil also adds great flavour to sauces. Drying oregano, thyme and rosemary from the garden is also a great idea, next best thing to fresh herbs during the winter months.
Summer in a Jar…worth their weight in gold but especially in flavour!