Look how full of basil our kitchen window has been for months! It has been great, we have had fresh basil all through the summer and we already dried a batch which is almost used up by now and also made a batch of pesto.
But the end has been in sight for our basil plants for weeks now; the leaves have been turning yellow and falling away and they have continued to flower and produce seeds, which I have been cutting off and collecting.
Finally we got around to doing something about the situation today.
Today became ‘Process the Basil’ Sunday. First things first we stripped the plants. By stripped I mean we took all the usable leaves which is a lot less than the total number of leaves. It is a shame to throw so many away but they were really past their best. Top on the agenda was pesto. We blitzed up about 50g basil leaves with 30g parmesan, 30g pine nuts and a few splashes of olive oil. While I was making the pesto Adam cooked some pasta and we took a break from basil processing to eat some pasta with fresh basil and a few tomatoes from the garden. Yum.
Next on the agenda I decided to make some basil and garlic butter. I have been nervous about storing garlic on account of a danger of botulism or something like that. But it seems you can freeze it safely. So I mixed up an amount (less than half a tub) of butter, with two cloves of garlic and an amount (about 5 pinches) of basil leaves. Once this was combined it was also instantly consumed with some fresh bread straight out of the oven!
The remains of the pesto and basil butter were drained into an ice cube tray to be frozen for later use. I am excited about the idea of being able to pop a cube of pesto or butter out in winter time to flavour steamed potatoes or some pasta. How easy is that?
I also made a few other things today with basil. I crushed a few leaves a bit and added them to the end of a bottle of nice Italian olive oil. I will leave that to brew for a couple of weeks and we should have some tasty basil infused oil. Finally I blitzed the remaining leaves in the blender with some water into a sort of watery paste. The intention was to freeze this for adding to soups but the ice cube tray is now full so it is still sitting in the fridge!
After all the work in the kitchen was done we removed the old plants from their pots, chopped them up and composted them. Look how much root and how little soil was left in this pot! Despite being watered every day for the last few weeks they have been constantly dry and really struggling, now I can see why!
Last but not least, I added fresh compost to one of the pots and planted a few of the seeds we have collected. I expect they should germinate as the weather has been so warm recently.
Bring on the next crop of basil all through the winter!