Raspberry Jam Winner + Frozen Basil

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Three cheers for Whitney, who’s number came up in the Raspberry Jam giveaway last night. She’s a lucky girl, as it’s very, very good stuff.

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Last Friday, I had the day off from work, and so my friend Shay and I took a drive out to Lancaster, to look for jars for my wedding (we’re planting tiny herb plants in a variety of jars as gifts for our guests) and visit her parents. I found an amazing cache of jelly jars (the ones that you can’t really use anymore, as they were designed to be sealed with wax) for $.15 each at the thrift store in Mount Joy, which got me much closer to the needed 60 jars. I also returned home with a 2 1/2 gallon ziptop bag, stuffed absolutely full of basil from Shay’s mom Ty’s garden.

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Ty hasn’t had the greatest tomato year because of all the rain we’ve gotten, but it’s been a stellar year for basil production. Her herb garden is absolutely bursting with fragrant, vividly green basil. No matter how much I cut, it was nearly impossible to make a visible dent. So Friday night, I made an improvised pesto. I used lots of garlic, olive oil and parmesan cheese, but skipped the nuts (I didn’t have any pine nuts, and determined that I wanted this basil sauce of mine to be as flexible as possible). I ran my food processor for nearly half an hour and came away with more than four pints of pesto (that’s a hell of a lot). I packed it into 4- and 8-ounce jars (leaving plenty of headspace) and tucked it into the freezer.

I’m so looking forward to adding it to pastas, soups and eating it spread on bread all winter long.

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11 responses to “Raspberry Jam Winner + Frozen Basil”

  1. Hi Marisa! What a unique idea to give herbs…and it so sounds like YOU! I use a basic pesto recipe minus the nuts. Can I feeze it or is there a special recipe for frezzing pesto? THX, PAT

  2. I just found your blog looking for info on pickled limes and I love it! You sure do love that preserving don’t you?! I’m a pickle addict myself so I’m particularly looking forward to reading about those.

  3. I’m so jealous! 15 cents a jar. I can’t find “old or used” jars anywhere around here. One day I guess. We are not big pesto people, but I’m glad you used up that basil. Enjoy these nice Fall days!

  4. I cover a cookie sheet with parchment and then use my cookie scoop to make little pesto balls. I freeze them and then put them into a ziploc. That way I can easily grab what I need out of the freezer.

  5. I use a little spinach in my pesto when I have some extra and whatever nuts I happen to have around. I found that pumpkin seeds work really nicely.

  6. Come January that pesto dinner on a Tuesday night is going to taste so so good. Thanks for the reminder that you *can* freeze things in jars – I have a fear of it for some reason. Tip: blanch the basil in boiling salt water for 30 seconds, then dunk into a bowl of ice water and squeeze the water out – pesto will stay bright bright green even once frozen, defrosted, etc. if you care about that kind of thing!

  7. lucky you! I freeze pesto for winter, too. I use old ice cube trays that I used for baby food and then dump the cubes in another container when frozen. The best part? You can take a cube of pesto straight from the freezer, dump hot pasta on it, and stir around. Now that is some fast food. I’ve also used pesto instead of tomato sauce on pizza. amazing.

  8. You can also freeze basil by just wrapping the leaves tightly in plastic wrap, and then bagging or foiling, or puree/ chop the basil with just water in a food processor and freeze into ice cube trays, then pop out the cubes into a bag. Allows you to use your basil in more ways -and in easy-to-measure amounts- if it’s not seasoned and oily. Plus, good Parmesan sometimes gets gummy frozen.

  9. I grow a mighty field of basil every year, and we end up making about 4 or 5 quarts of pesto over the year. For freezing, I process the basil with just olive oil for freezing, and then make pesto over the winter by adding the cheese, nuts, garlic and salt.

    My favorite nut for pesto? Pistachios! Seriously. Marcona almonds are good too. Pine nuts are overrated. Also, a few sundried tomatoes and a splash of balsamic vinegar are good in pesto.

  10. I just found your blog looking for info on pickled limes and I love it! You sure do love that preserving don’t you?! I’m a pickle addict myself so I’m particularly looking forward to reading about those.

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