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What To Do With Fresh Basil?

What To Do With Fresh Basil?
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  • Post #31 - August 8th, 2007, 4:52 pm
    Post #31 - August 8th, 2007, 4:52 pm Post #31 - August 8th, 2007, 4:52 pm
    Thanks, Kitchen Monkey!
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #32 - August 8th, 2007, 5:48 pm
    Post #32 - August 8th, 2007, 5:48 pm Post #32 - August 8th, 2007, 5:48 pm
    OK, does anybody have tips for storing basil fresh from the garden - just for a day or so? I've tried the following refridgerated options: washing, drying & ziploc baggying with a paper towel; leaving as is but standing in a glass of water like a flower; using the ziploc/paper towel process but washing in acidulated water - and have nasty black basil smut the next day. AAAGH! Not looking for long-term, just a day or two...

    All my other herbs are right outside my door and I can snip as needed, but the basil is in my plot, and after I harvest I'm usually wiped out from from cursing the bunnies and rending my hair and thus don't feel like using it right away. It's frustrating, because I have a fair crop (the bunnies don't know what they're missing!)
  • Post #33 - August 8th, 2007, 6:24 pm
    Post #33 - August 8th, 2007, 6:24 pm Post #33 - August 8th, 2007, 6:24 pm
    My basil is from the store, but it can keep for 2-3 days in the fridge. I usually make sure that it's dry, wrap it in paper towel, put it into a plastic bag and put it in the fridge.

    The sooner you use it, the better, but it should definitely keep for just a day.
  • Post #34 - August 9th, 2007, 5:15 am
    Post #34 - August 9th, 2007, 5:15 am Post #34 - August 9th, 2007, 5:15 am
    Mhays wrote:OK, does anybody have tips for storing basil fresh from the garden - just for a day or so? I've tried the following refridgerated options: washing, drying & ziploc baggying with a paper towel; leaving as is but standing in a glass of water like a flower; using the ziploc/paper towel process but washing in acidulated water - and have nasty black basil smut the next day. AAAGH! Not looking for long-term, just a day or two...

    Most refrigerators are too cold for basil, especially garden varieties -- it does basically the same thing that a frost will do to your garden plants. (Some of the commercial basils may be bred to handle chillier temperatures.) Try standing it in water at room temperature.

    If you have to refrigerate, the ziploc should go in the warmest part of the fridge.
  • Post #35 - August 11th, 2007, 7:51 am
    Post #35 - August 11th, 2007, 7:51 am Post #35 - August 11th, 2007, 7:51 am
    Thank you, thank you, LAZ! That was, indeed, the problem - and on the plus side I now have a lovely bouquet of lemon basil perfuming my table!
  • Post #36 - August 11th, 2007, 8:41 pm
    Post #36 - August 11th, 2007, 8:41 pm Post #36 - August 11th, 2007, 8:41 pm
    Hi,

    For those who may not have a bushy basil at home. Sunset Foods (Highland Park, Northbrook, Lake Forest and Libertyville) in August usually has a fabulous deal on basil: huge, huge bunch for a very, very reasonable price. Just today I bought two of these huge bundles for $2.99 each.

    I am freezing pesto in the initial phases. Later I will chop or chiffonade them into water and freeze them into ice cubes. When I need 'fresh' basil to finish a sauce next winter, I will have my private stock in the freezer. I learned this tip from someone who belong(ed) the Evanston Herb Society. She suggested this for rosemary that quickly looses its' strength after picking.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #37 - August 13th, 2007, 9:58 am
    Post #37 - August 13th, 2007, 9:58 am Post #37 - August 13th, 2007, 9:58 am
    Cathy, would you kindly describe your process in more detail -- do you strip the leaves and then freeze them to chiffonade them later and refreeze in water, or what.

    I'd been making pesto entire and freezing it in ice cube trays to use throughout the winter -- the quality deteriorates some, so I'd appreciate a better method.

    Sonja
  • Post #38 - August 13th, 2007, 10:07 am
    Post #38 - August 13th, 2007, 10:07 am Post #38 - August 13th, 2007, 10:07 am
    HI,

    Chop, chiffonade or leave as whole leaves, then get them into ice cube trays with water and freeze.

    The freezer pesto exterior cubes do oxidize turning a bit dark. Inside it is still bright green. I haven't noticed a decline in flavor, have you?

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #39 - August 13th, 2007, 10:51 am
    Post #39 - August 13th, 2007, 10:51 am Post #39 - August 13th, 2007, 10:51 am
    SGFoxe wrote:I'd been making pesto entire and freezing it in ice cube trays to use throughout the winter -- the quality deteriorates some, so I'd appreciate a better method.

    As I mentioned upthread, the garlic, pinenuts and other ingredients in pesto deteriorate in freezing, so it's better to freeze the basil without those ingredients. You can just whirl the basil leaves with olive oil (or butter) in a blender and freeze the resulting paste, which will keep better than prepared pesto. Add the other ingredients fresh when you use the product.

    You can make basil ice cubes the same way, using water instead of oil.
  • Post #40 - August 13th, 2007, 11:10 am
    Post #40 - August 13th, 2007, 11:10 am Post #40 - August 13th, 2007, 11:10 am
    LAZ wrote:Freezing is a good idea, although rather than making pesto to freeze I recommend just whirling the basil leaves with olive oil in a blender and freezing the resulting paste, which will keep better than prepared pesto. The garlic, pinenuts and other ingredients in pesto deteriorate somewhat in freezing, so it's better to add them fresh when you use the product. You can also freeze basil ice cubes using water instead of oil.


    I'm going to give that a try. I guess I was more focussed on the ideas below than the preamble.

    Regards,
    Last edited by Cathy2 on August 13th, 2007, 11:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #41 - August 13th, 2007, 11:40 am
    Post #41 - August 13th, 2007, 11:40 am Post #41 - August 13th, 2007, 11:40 am
    I've been blanching the basil leaves to preserve color -- but that has got to do something with diluting the taste.
  • Post #42 - August 13th, 2007, 12:31 pm
    Post #42 - August 13th, 2007, 12:31 pm Post #42 - August 13th, 2007, 12:31 pm
    I just thought I ought to clarify a point about the pinenuts, since it occurs to me that many people -- as I do -- freeze whole pinenuts to preserve their freshness. They do keep better that way, but when they're crushed up as in pesto, they deteriorate faster and lose crunch (I often make a kind of chunky pesto).

    I find I have the best results with pinenuts (and other types of nuts) if I freeze them whole and raw and then toast them just before using.

    SGFoxe, yes, blanching is going to dilute the flavor. The darkening of unblanched basil doesn't seem to affect the flavor, so it's a matter of aesthetics: color vs. flavor.

    By the way, I came across a reference for preserving basil in salt that says if you leave the leaves whole and layer them in the salt so that they don't touch each other, and then refrigerate the whole business, the leaves stay close to fresh. I haven't tried that.
  • Post #43 - August 14th, 2007, 7:56 am
    Post #43 - August 14th, 2007, 7:56 am Post #43 - August 14th, 2007, 7:56 am
    Do you have any other herbs growing? If so, make chimichurri, quite possibly the best condiment on planet Earth.

    Oil
    Vinegar
    Garlic
    Green herbs
    S/P
    Red Pepper flakes
  • Post #44 - August 14th, 2007, 2:53 pm
    Post #44 - August 14th, 2007, 2:53 pm Post #44 - August 14th, 2007, 2:53 pm
    tips for storing basil


    Here is the method I discovered this summer after trying many other unsuccessful (and more labor-intensive) techniques in summers past. Luckily, this is the easiest and laziest way!

    Take your big bunch of basil stalks and sandwich it between 2 generous layers of paper towel. Do not wash the basil beforehand.

    Stuff the whole bunch into a plastic grocery bag. Tie the handles of the bag, trapping a big pocket of air above the basil. Just tie a single, sort of loose, shoestring-looking knot. It should not be totally airtight. A bit of ventilation is desirable.

    Leave on the counter unless your kitchen is sweltering-hot. Otherwise, place in the warmest part of your fridge (usually the top shelf). You might also consider setting the temp of your fridge a little warmer than usual.

    My basil from the farmers market (usually from Green Acres or Nichols) lasts better than a week when handled this way.
  • Post #45 - September 29th, 2008, 1:15 pm
    Post #45 - September 29th, 2008, 1:15 pm Post #45 - September 29th, 2008, 1:15 pm
    Mhays wrote:I have gobs of lemon basil that I don't know what to do with...


    For some reason, I bought a lemon basil plant at the Farmer's Market and it is thriving in my garden. Realizing suddenly that it has the same "soapy" characteristics as cilantro, I threw it in a homemade Pico de Gallo. It's fabulous - a good, if somewhat different, replacement for cilantro with a much longer growing season - and it's around when tomatoes are ripe. It offers that "fresh" hit that you get with cilantro but it's quite a bit stronger so you need to chiffonade it carefully and use it sparingly.

    I'd imagine it would work even better with Asian applications of cilantro, as it has a flavor remeniscent of lemongrass.

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