Sunday, September 12, 2010

make room for lettuce: saving basil

I'm not even sure how many basil transplants I planted last spring--at least 11. Convinced tomatoes would be a pain, I was determined to successfully grow lots of basil. However, now I needed raised-bed room for lettuce and chard seeds, so yesterday I harvested the basil from nine plants, yanked those plants out, and added them to a compost pile.

former basil bed before weeding/prepping for lettuce seeds
former basil bed after (today): lettuces, kale, and chard
I washed all the basil and began freezing it three different ways. Last year, we rolled the leaves and stuffed them into ice cube trays, added water, froze them, then saved the basil ice cubes in freezer bags so we could reclaim our ice cube trays.

We also tried stuffing whole leaves in a freezer bag and filling the bag with water (squeezing out the air bubbles) before freezing. Both methods worked okay for winter cooking but sometimes contributed too much water, especially to sauces.

This time around, we did both previous methods but also tried freezing little chiffonades in the ice cube trays. I'm not sure if cutting the basil before freezing will make it bitter in the end, but I'm willing to experiment.

The whole-leaf freezing seems to have worked, too.

Once again, husband Kurt did the hardest work today by turning the compost piles and mixing his "brown gold" into the old beds to revive them for their new seeds.


Beyond The Garden said...

This was a great year for basil. Mine is all dried and put in mason jars. I'm hoping to be back from Nevada before it frosts in WV so I can do one more batch

renee (renee's roots) said...

What a busy weekend you had, and what a lot you have to show for it -- bags of frozen basil cubes and tidy happy veg beds. Ahh, life is good -- as long as you don't mind sore hamstrings.

Kathleen Scott said...

I love seeing your season changes in the garden. The tidy rows of promise.

Thanks for showing the basil freezing process. One of my sisters says she freezes the leaves whole in zipper bags and it works fine. Will be interesting to see if your chiffonade works well. That would be the easiest to use.

Iris said...

Beyond The Garden--Good idea! I should dry some, too.

renee--The sore hamstrings are definitely worth it! And yes, they're still sore.

Kathleen--Thanks! I love "The tidy rows of promise"--perfect.

Lancashire rose said...

I puzzled for ever over that first photo. It looked like a bug that some garden spider had wrapped up! I have never tried to freeze basil so it is interesting to read that it does work. I usually just make pest o minus the parmesan cheese and put that in ice cube trays. I am still hoping for lots more basil before summer is over! Wish my veg. beds looked that tidy.

Iris said...

Lancashire rose--The veg beds won't look that tidy for long, but thanks. I've always heard of the pesto-minus-cheese freezing method, but we're not huge pesto fans, so we decided to experiment. I agree w/you--I hope my remaining few basil plants will thrive for at least another month.