Saving Herbs

basil and sage

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

Two of our herbs have done remarkably well this year. I have basil planted in the ground and in pots and all seem to love to heat and alternating dry and wet conditions. The sage took over this year in the same spot where we’d successfully grown parsley in the past two years, even through our mild winter. However, the parsley has done very little this spring and summer and I miss it!

We’ve been drying our sage for burning in the house as a purifier. When I went to find a page for the many wonderful uses of sage, I discovered the burning of it does more than cleanse our spirits and our homes – it also has medicinal properties for sinuses and headaches. Maybe this is why my migraines have finally disappeared this week. We pulled the sage down from the light fixture a few days ago and have been burning it in a large shell all over the house. I’m very impressed. beautiful sage drying Basil is one of my favorite herbs. It’s easy to grow and works in just about any dish. It is beautiful cut and placed in a vase with water. I cut off the leaves as needed. In the past, it seemed the leaves wilted after a few days. However, this summer I filled a small container with water and cut stems and it lasted for more than a month. It even rooted so now I have another basil plant in a pot outside. I hope to keep that going through the winter.All of my basil plants were headed to seed recently, so I gave them a trim. I ended up with this vase full, plus eight cups of leaves. Time for pesto. I’ve adjusted this recipe over the past two years, and it works wonderfully. Here’s my version of a large batch of pesto for freezing. Please note: Add the Parmesan cheese after thawing and before using.

Patricia’s Pesto (for freezing)

8 cups packed fresh basil leaves

4-6 cloves of garlic

3/4 cup pine nuts

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Combine basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor (you will probably need to do this in batches) and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add the olive oil and process until mixed in and smooth. (If you want to use immediately add 1 1/2 cups of cheese at this point. DO NOT ADD cheese if freezing.)

I fill ice cube trays with the mixture. This batch took about a tray and a half (making approximately 24 cubes).pesto cubesFreeze the cubes and then place in a zip lock bag. Whenever I want to use pesto on pasta or in a sauce, I pull out a cube or two or three, add the cheese and it’s good to go. I’ve been told these should be used within six months. That’s about how long they lasted in our house so I’m not sure it that’s true or not. Enjoy!

pesto for winter

17 thoughts on “Saving Herbs

  1. I love burning dried sage (and rosemary). The smell is absolutely wonderful. I also have basil on my garden, and it’s doing well this year. My grandmother planted red basil on her garden this year. I have never seen it before. The smell is very similar to the one green basil has.
    Have a nice day,
    Cassandra.

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  2. I love being able to pull pesto out of the freezer in the winter! I have tons of basil but I haven’t gotten around to making a big batch of pesto yet. Maybe this week I’ll get to it.

    Last summer I found a great tip on awaytogarden.com that you can freeze basil and parsley by compressing it into the bottom of a ziploc bag and rolling up the bag, so that you create a log of basil leaves. Then when you want to use some, you just slice a hunk off the end of the log. It works great!

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  3. Great idea. I have a bag of pesto cubes in my freezer right now. A suggestion to anyone who finds the high price of pine nuts daunting-cashews, almonds and even walnuts do just as well.

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  4. now that pesto looks very yummy. It’s making me crave it (and I’m not pregnant!)
    I grew lots of herbs from seeds but I think only my mint grew and I was disappointed not to see any of my lavendar. Oh well, and then the sun and heat killed my mint. I’m just going to end up dumping it in a part of the garden and I’m sure the mint will grow next year.
    I also have other mint growing in the garden but wanted more. I love to harvest the mint for use in soaps and for tea.

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    • Glad you like mint because once it’s established, it’s all over the place. We have that with lemon balm from the folks who owned this house before us. I’ve heard it’s good for many purposes – I just need to figure out how to use it. Our parsley did horribly this year and we’ve managed to keep that growing even through the winter. My husband needs to start more from seed this week because all of our plants are gone. Weather will continue to be sporadic so I guess we just enjoy what we have when we have it and do the best we can. Good luck to you!

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  5. Pingback: To Everything There is a season « Living lightly upon this earth

    • I read that Parmesan doesn’t freeze well. I made a pesto spread for a party on Sunday. I put in the cheese then heated it in the microwave. It turned hard and I had to throw it away. Some folks ate it in chunks and said it tasted great but I’m not so sure. I’m not sure what went wrong.

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