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Gardener's Grapevine 2011.08.31

on . Posted in Gardener's Grapevine

It’s the beginning of harvest season and there is lots of work ahead for a winter’s bounty. This past weekend I canned 11 quarts of tomatoes which happen to be vine ripened, pesticide free and beautiful sitting on the pantry shelves.

We have a huge old pantry from when the house was originally built and it is a beauty with tall shelves to the 10-foot ceiling, spaced exactly right for quart canning jars. Sometimes I look at the jars all lined up and pretty just, waiting for winter, and think of the people who would have placed their bounty there in the past. 

Our home has had three owners prior to us, so there were not too many people putting things in the pantry. I know the Rutledge’s had a garden as it was there when we bought the house. They also burned in their garden and the soil was hard as a brick and very acidic.

This weekend Art, Jacquie and I put up pesto and it turned out wonderful. Basil is a very simple herb to grow and it is fabulous in a pesto. It is not an inexpensive venture, but more than worth the cost and effort. In the spring I scatter some basil seed in our herb beds and water them every so often. When they make full bushes with flowers starting at the ends of the branches, I cut them in half. One packet of seeds usually equals two bushels of basil.

The next job is to strip all the leaves off and wash them. My daughter Jacquie’s garden is very sandy so it takes about three washes to make sure there isn’t any sand on the leaves; mine is composted about three to four years with horse manure, and the leaves are easily washed. I use a salad spinner to remove all the excess water. The leaves are then put in a food processor and the other ingredients added.

I put the mixture in sandwich freezer bags creased in the center and folded over, then I put all the sandwich bags in a gallon freezer bag. The reason I crease and fold them in half is so when I take some out of the freezer it breaks easily. Half a sandwich bag is about what I use in a normal batch of pasta. I just thaw it out toss it in hot pasta and serve….yummmm!
A friend gave me the recipe, and great recipes—especially ones that utilize a garden’s bounty—need to be shared. I can share anything, but the family recipe for hamloaf, which would get me in deep trouble. Because it’s been a while since I took a trip to the woodshed I will keep that one to myself and share the pesto recipe:

2 cups fresh basil, ¼ cup pine nuts (I use a combination of pine nuts and chopped pistachios because it’s less expensive), ¼ cup olive oil, 2 cloves peeled garlic, salt to taste, ½ cup ground parmesan cheese, ½ cup picorono ramono cheese (a good American domestic will work well too, it’s just not as strong). Blend all but the salt together in a food processor. Salt to taste. Freeze and enjoy.

You can purchase all these items at Sofo’s market or the Anderson’s in Toledo. Some bigger grocery stores may carry the items also.

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