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Preserving Basil by Ros

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As promised, here are my notes on the mini workshop thanks to Ros.  Here’s a picture of the lovely Ros and the tempting pesto and other basil preserves.

Basil workshop by Ros

  1. Dried basil – best to use dehydrator as basil will other oxidise (brown)
  2. Processed basil (pesto in oil) – blend basil with olive oil in a blender or food processor until a smooth consistency and keep in a sterile jar with extra olive oil on top.  Mixed herbs will also work.  This can keep over winter in the fridge.
  3. Basil oil – pack basil in jar and top up with olive oil.  Keep in warm room for at least 2 weeks.  Works well in the heat of summer but do not place under hot sun as this will burn/fry the basil!  Keep over winter in a sterile jar.
  4. Frozen basil crumble – roll up whole basil (include stem) laid out on cling wrap in single portions.  Pop into a zip lock bag and freeze.  When required, just remove from freezer and crumble over food.
  5. Use in tomato preserve or pasta sauce.  Just include a few basil leaves when filling jars.
  6. Last but not least, the favourite basil pesto!  Ros’ recipe below (hope I got it right!).

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups basil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 tbsp nuts (pine or walnut)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup olive oil

Method:

  1. Blend basil with some olive oil.
  2. Add nuts, salt and parmesan cheese and continue to blend to a smooth paste.
  3. Add oil a little at a time (in a steady stream while blending, if possible) and continue blending.  Similar process to making mayonnaise.
  4. Ready when smooth.  Keep in sterile jar and top with olive oil.

Most of the preserves will keep well over winter.  Just remember to keep a layer of olive oil on top.  Peppercorns on top of the pesto will help to preserve it too.

Also, I should mention that Ros uses sweet basil and purple mostly, although there are many other varieties of basil including perennial basil.  If you are substituting with another type of basil, do check that you like the taste as some can be stronger in flavour.

We enjoyed tasting the basil pesto with crackers.  I can’t wait to make some myself but first I’ve got to grow the basil.  I’ll have to keep the basil in a pot this time as Ros said that would be better.  Meanwhile, I think I’ll try to make pesto with other herbs that are still alive in my garden 🙂  Hope this has given you some tips on how to be able to use basil all year round!

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