Most of our herb plants are just starting to bloom which means they are at the peak of their flavor and it’s high time to harvest them.
Preserving basil is a “must do” so we can enjoy a burst of basil flavor in the middle of winter. We usually start by freezing some basil – wash and gently dry the leaves and chop them in a food processor adding just enough high quality olive oil to make a paste. We also like to add some chopped garlic.
Freeze the basil in an ice cube tray & put them into a zip lock bag when frozen. Another option is to freeze the basil in a log shape so just the right amount can be sliced off.
This is a great base for pesto – thaw the amount needed and add Romano cheese and some lightly toasted and chopped pine nuts.
Another nice way to preserve basil is to make basil vinegar for use in a soup, sauce or salad dressing, adding to a meat marinade or splashing on some steamed vegetables.
Wash and thoroughly dry the basil (can include stem and flowers) then bruise with the back of a spoon or “wring out” the sprigs of basil to release the essential oils. Place in clean, sterilized jar. Heat the vinegar (for best results, use white wine or champagne vinegar) but don’t boil.
Pour over the basil being sure the vinegar covers all the basil. Cool, then put on a lid and store for 2-3 weeks. Gently shaking the jar every so often is helpful. Strain and put into a clean sterilized jar. Note: This process can be used to make other kinds of herb vinegars.
The third option is to simply dry some leaves – wash and dry and then dry some more, or cut whole stems and wash, dry and and hang in bunches upside down. Remove leaves and place in sterilized jar.