A little while ago, my sister-in-law and brother-in-law brought over scrumptious lunch foods from their garden! Various peppers, tomatoes, onions, and the most vibrant deep green basil!! They said they have lots more basil still growing in their garden this year.
That brought back memories of years when I had whole beds of basil ready to pick but didn’t know how I could use it all. Since then I’ve found a number of ways to preserve not only basil but also other greens.
One of the tastiest ways is to make pestos from basil, spinach—even cilantro! The basic ingredients are simple enough—greens, garlic, walnuts or pine nuts, salt, lemon juice and olive oil. I add nutritional yeast for that bit of cheesy taste. Homemade pesto should stay fresh in your fridge for up to a week.
But—did you know??? You can freeze pesto! There are two ways. Make up the pesto as in my recipe below, transfer the mixture to a freezer container, cover with a nice layer of olive oil, and then freeze.
Or—for an even fresher variation of freezer pesto—process just the basil and olive oil in your food processor. Transfer to a freezer container, cover with a good layer of olive oil and freeze. When you’re ready to serve the pesto, remove from the freezer, thaw, transfer to your food processor and then add the garlic, nuts, salt and lemon juice. I read an article by a person who used this method and came upon a container in her freezer that she had made up 7 years earlier! She decided to try it—and was amazed to find that it still tasted fresh and very delicious after she added the other ingredients to the thawed greens/olive oil mixture and whizzed it all up in her food processor!
Another way to preserve greens is to dehydrate them, just as you would dehydrate herbs. Done this way, you can make up green smoothies and other super healthy green drinks easily in the wintertime using your dried greens.
Probably one of the most delicious ways to preserve greens by dehydrating is to make kale chips! They’re expensive to buy but not when you make them at home from your own garden greens! Here’s the recipe below along with my recipe for pesto:
- Fresh kale leaves
- Olive oil
- Coarse sea salt
- Nutritional yeast flakes (optional—but tasty!)
Wash kale leaves. Remove stems and ribs, and tear large leaves in several pieces. Place on cookie sheet covered with parchment paper or in dehydrator. Spray kale leaves lightly with olive oil and sprinkle sparingly with coarse sea salt and nutritional yeast (if desired). Dehydrate at 115 degrees for several hours until crispy/crunchy or dry in solar dehydrator. Store in an air tight container.
- 4 C. basil leaves
- 1/4 C. walnuts or pine nuts
- 2-4 cloves garlic, depending on size
- 1 t. sea salt
- 2 T. lemon juice
- 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 C. nutritional yeast (optional)
Place all ingredients in food processor or blender and process until smooth. To store for up to 1 week in refrigerator, immediately put in a small glass jar and pour 1/8” olive oil on top to prevent discoloration. Keep refrigerated. Or to freeze the pesto, follow my directions in the post above.