Once it gets to be September the basil production slows down and I steel myself for the day when I have to cut down the basil and make my final mass production of pesto to freeze for the winter. Usually buy this time I already have a dozen or so packages in the freezer. These October bags are my insurance that I will have enough pesto to last until I have fresh basil next June.
So yes, cleaning out the basil and making the pesto is indeed a fall fix-up.
Here's the scoop.
Chop off the basil at the base. Gather it all up and lay it on the table. Take a picture.
This summer two of my plants only produced through July. At this point I am glad. There are a lot of basil leaves to pick off here.
Pick off all the leaves. Put them in a pile on the table. Take a picture.
Fill the sink halfway with water. Dump all the basil in the water and let soak long enough for any dirt or bugs on the leaves washes off. If you are like me you may forget you have basil soaking and come back to it several hours later. Drain all the basil in a colander and follow my the instructions from my previous pesto making post for drying the leaves.
Put back on the table . . . because there is not a bowl big enough to hold them.
Make your pesto. This basil turned out to be just the right amount for 15 recipes.
Put the bowl on the table and take a picture.
This is what 15 cups of pesto looks like.
To freeze the pesto this is what I do. (I don't know what other people do. This method works for me so I haven't bothered to investigate what other ideas are out there. )
Measure 1 cup (or however much you want) of pesto into each bag. I just use the ziplock sandwich bags. You want the bags to stay vertical because if you lay them flat the weight of the bags causes the oil to seep out of the bottom bags. You want the bags to freeze as flat as possible while remaining vertical. To do this, put them in a box or plastic bin and then put them in the freezer.
Once they are frozen take them out of the box and put them in a freezer safe bags. Just fit in as many as you can into whatever size freezer bags you have. When you want some pesto, take out a bag! It doesn't take long at all to thaw - less than an hour.
Note: I have read that pesto freezes for up to 6 months. I have kept it frozen for up to 9 months with no problems.
When the pesto is thawed you can unzip it and spoon it out. What I usually do is cut the tip off one of the bottom corners and squeeze it out like icing.
In case you're wondering, here are some ways you can use pesto:
mixed with balsamic vinegar and olive oil for salad dressing
in soup (or any recipe that calls for basil)
on spaghetti squash
mashed with white beans for a tasty dip or spread
mix into butter
mix with cream for creamy pesto sauce
in potato salad
on sweet potatoes
on butternut squash
by the spoonful
oh heck - just look here for 50 ways to use pesto.
Make something wonderful today!
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