Nothing says summer like the sweet and spicy aromatic bouquet of fresh basil. This unassuming looking herb loves to bask under the summer sun and send up wafts of scent, redolent of mediterranean holidays and slow al fresco dinners.
Did you know...that basil is actually a member of the mint family? Take a moment to crush a leaf or two and see if you can smell the slight mint scent, along with hints of clove, anise, and slight peppery notes. We grow a few different varieties at the Farm, but all are of the Genovese variety, which are known for their large shiny leaves and being incredibly aromatic.
If you’ve been in the Farm Store recently you know that basil season is in full swing. Basil loves the hot, sunny days we’ve been enjoying, and the plants have been abundant! Now is very much the time to be enjoying all things basil, and putting some time into storing a little of this summer flavour for the cold winter months.
Our Favourite Farm Fresh Basil Recipes:
In our opinion, the very best way to enjoy Farm Fresh basil is as pesto. This simple Italian sauce is so versatile, and puts summer basil right in the spotlight, where it deserves to be!
If you’ve never made it yourself, we encourage you to give it a try. It is infinitely customizable to your taste, and can be used in so many different ways. Yes, you can blanket pasta in the warm flavours of pesto, but it’s also great as a sandwich spread, mixed with some mayo as a veggie or chip dip, or used as part of a summery salad dressing.
Here are two of our favourite basil pesto recipes, one traditional pesto and one vegan pesto.
Farm Fresh tip: If you find the flavour of basil pesto a little bit strong, try adding some spinach to your recipe, or make it peppery with some arugula.
More Farm Fresh Basil Recipes:
How to Store Your Fresh Basil
Once you bring home your basil, whether it’s a single bunch, or a large bag for preserving, we recommend submerging the stems in water, covering loosely with a plastic bag, and leaving it on the counter. Basil is very cold sensitive and has a tendency to turn black and limp when stored in the fridge.
Preserving Basil for Long-Term Enjoyment
Pesto freezes beautifully! Jolianne likes to fill an ice cube tray with fresh pesto and freeze in cubes for later use. Once it’s frozen just pop out the cubes and store in a sealed container or bag.
If pesto isn’t your thing, or you want to preserve some unadulterated basil flavour, our best suggestion is to chop the leaves finely, pack it into ice cube trays and top each cube with olive oil. Once frozen, pack into containers or bags, and you’ll have some plain basil to enjoy all winter long.
The last option is to dehydrate or dry your basil. Dried basil loses a lot of its bright and fresh flavour, but if you lack freezer space then this is the best option for you. Just hang small bunches of basil in a well ventilated space, out of direct sun until dry. Store dried basil in a tightly sealed jar or ziploc bag. The flavour will deteriorate over time so use it within the year.
The basil season is relatively short here in Ottawa, the plants are not fans of our high humidity, so make sure to take advantage of this special season!
We have basil available in a number of different sizes - get your orders in today and let’s get pesto making!