Sunday, September 16, 2007

Mad Basil

What started off in May as two small packets from the Seed Savers Exchange, and gradually became seedlings in window boxes, have now created a veritable basil bush outside our porch. For a time in July and August, when the weather wasn't too screwy, I would go out on a Saturday and harvest a salad-spinner's worth of fresh basil leaves. Now that the plants have gone rampant, that's more than two spinners' worth (compare the before and after, at right). There really is only so much pesto one can deal with, even when storing ahead for winter.

That is only part of our lay-in for the coming winter. The farmer's market is in full harvest swing now, and we are starting to gather what we hope will be the bulk of our produce for the coming winter. We aren't quite so ambitious to try canning, so we are instead freezing a great portion of it. We figure that getting locally-produced food and storing it in an energy-efficient chest freezer is probably a darn sight better than February imports from Chile, New Zealand, or even California. Butternut squash, zucchini, and green beans are only the latest installment. We have also prepared and frozen salsas fresca and verde, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and red pepper. Potatoes, more squash, carrots, and parsnip are coming. Onions and garlic will hang in the cellar. We will hopefully have better results than last year's lay-in: we had many a whole squash slowly rot on the shelf in the cellar, while the potatoes softened and the onions sprouted.

UPDATE 9/23/07: How much pesto, you ask? I took stock of it yesterday - most of it is in the freezer. In various containers and bags we have 3-1/2 quarts frozen. Over the summer, we probably ate our way through 1-2 quarts. So, consider a half-gallon milk carton, then multiply that by three, then imagine them filled with pesto.

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