Sunday, July 31, 2011

Harvest Is Coming In

Tomatoes in my village garden. The vines at the family garden have four times the tomatoes set.

I'm on my last jar of salsa, my last jar of pickle relish. I'm out of tomato sauce and sweet red pepper spread.

So, it's a good thing I've been able to pick my first couple tomatoes and filled a tub with 30-some cucumbers. I picked a patty pan squash yesterday, too. The cantaloupe and squash have put up lots of blossoms and there is evidence of busy bee successes in the tiny, but swelling melons forming behind the twisted blossoms.

Now preserving the harvest will begin to take priority over weeding.

Yesterday, my sister-in-law and I harvested basil. We had decided to attempt to freeze chopped basil blended with olive oil. I've chopped basil and simply measured out usable amounts and frozen into Ziplock bags in the past. While this method results in a usable product, the color is less than desirable, being a deep black green. The first thing I noticed about the oil and basil processed with a food processor was the nice color. We decided to half-fill the cubes sections in the ice cube tray, press, and then add some additional oil on the top. We covered the tray with tin foil and put it into the freezer.

We did not use salt or water, simply basil and olive oil.

I have attempted to dry it. Sometimes I am able to dry the basil and maintain its good color. Other times, a fail, the basil turns brown or black.

Some tips, if you intend to dry the leaves of basil: Choose undamaged, clean and dry basil. Sometime simply washing the basil with cool water will turn the basil brown. If you must wash the basil versus wiping off the dust or dirt, use warmer water and pat dry, do not crush between paper toweling. Dry while still attached to stems. I have had better luck drying basil as quickly as possible, for example in my standing pilot gas stove versus hanging over a bar in a dark place.

Once dry to crumbly stage, detach leaves from stems, and store in a labeled glass jar in a dark place. I like to add a couple grains of rice to each jar to absorb any atmospheric humidity.

Tomorrow: Harvesting dill.

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