Make the Most of End of Season Basil
My garden has finally given into the winter weather. I have just removed my 4 large basil plants this week. The stems were starting to get woody, there was limited new growth and the leaves started to get black spots.
I am thankful for the long season I have had from my summer crops and for the abundance they have provided to our table.
Uses for end of season Basil :
Prior to removing the basil plants I picked as many of the leaves off the plants as possible and made:
- Basil Pesto
- Frozen cubes of pesto
- Basil Infused Olive Oil (recipe & steps below)
I got the idea for making the Basil infused oil from a book I won from The Culinary Library a few months ago, Alchemy of the Mortar & Pestle. The book contains a chapter dedicated to Aetherolea, “a water-resistant (hydrophobic) liquid that contains volatile aroma compounds from plants” (p75).
The steps for making the basil oil outline below are based on the instructions provided in the book. I tweaked the amount of leaves as I know that basil is a plant that will generously release it’s molecules into an oil base. It is classified as a mid note so will impart quite a strong aroma.
I adore basil, it is one of the herbs that I use most often and I did not want to waste the large quantity of lovely leaves that were still on the bushes. I dislike buying herbs from the store as they do not keep well and have often totally lost their freshness by the time they are used. Making an oil and freezing some pesto cubes means my basil lasts into winter. I will re plant new bushes as soon as the soil starts to warm again in the coming Spring.
Makes: Just under 1/2 cup of infused oil
Preparation Time: 1 hour 20 minutes – including infusing (rest) time of 1 hour
- 3 cups of freshly picked and washed (sweet) basil leaves
- 1/2 cup of oil of choice – I used a local Manzanillo olive oil
- Mortar and pestle
- Sieve or muslin cloth to strain
- Dark (tinted) bottle to store the oil
- Add as many basil leaves to the mortar as will fit and add a drizzle of oil
- Pound and grind the oil and leaves until reduced to a pulp and they start to combine
- Add more leaves and oil and continue until all have been added
- Once all of the leaves and oil have been pounded and ground let it sit for approximately one hour
- Pound and grind again and then strain the oil into a bowl – you may need to do this twice
- Pour the strained oil into a dark bottle to store
Uses of Basil Infused Oil:
- A marinate for white meat, with additional oil added
- A salad dressing
- Drizzled on seafood to serve
Hints and Tips:
- The flavor is strong so not much of the oil is required to impart the lovely herbaceous flavor of basil freshly picked from the garden
- Use an icing spatula with a flexible end to push the oil through the sieve and ensure all oil is captured (see picture)
- Oil should be stored in a dark bottle in a cool and dark location. This helps prevent the oil from degrading
- Use within 12 weeks. Not suitable for long term storage
- Leaving the oil to sit in the mortar for an hour allows the flavor to infuse
- This oil is not suitable for heating, it is a dressing to serve and flavor
This post is linked to Kate Says Stuff’s Thankful Thursday. Thank you Kate for the opportunity to join you.
What is your favourite way to use Basil? Do you still have some in your garden?
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