Too Much Basil !?!

Never had to say this before but I had a basil problem this year.  It started innocently enough, six little basil plants here, six more there, and heck, why not?  Another six.  Basil is one of those plants that just make you feel good.  It germinates quickly and watching those green leaves come out on the windowsill while it’s still too cold to plant anything outside gets me primed to get the garden going.  I ended up with about 18 plants that I put in the ground in front of my tomatoes.  I heard that tomatoes and basil like to grow next to each other.  They weren’t kidding.

Pistol and Mike picking basil

A couple of weeks ago we harvested over 5 lbs of the stuff!  We made pesto of course.  Lots of it. Tons of pesto.  Great, we still had a couple pounds of cleaned basil leaves ready to go.  We loves us some caprese salad but that didn’t even put a dent into basil mountain plus we needed the refrigerator space.   Plenty of other things were ripening and needed attention too.  What to do with too much basil?  I ended up making basil oil and basil syrup.  Both are infusions.  One into oil and the other into sugar syrup.

drying basil

For the oil:

Take a produce bag full of basil leaves (about a pound) and stuff it in a blender with 2 cups of olive oil.

blender full of basil

Blend it up and let it sit for an hour or two.

After a couple hours I simmered it for about 15  minutes to extract flavor and get some of the moisture from the basil out of the oil.  I’m not sure it was essential but it didn’t hurt anything.

straining

Strain it through a strainer.  Work it around with a spoon to get all the oil through.

cloth filter

Strain it again through a cloth lined strainer to get more of the finer stuff out.

paper filter

Filter it through a paper towel or coffee filter to get the finest bits out.  This took a long time and I had to swap the coffee filter out 3-4 times because it was clogging up and I was impatient.

Seal it in a jar or two.  I made two jars and stuck one in the fridge and one in the freezer for later.

For the syrup:

First make a simple syrup.  Never made it before?  Don’t worry, it’s simple!  Just take equal parts by volume of water and sugar ( I used 1 1/2 cups each) and heat it in a saucepan over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved into the water.  Make sure to stir it regularly so that it doesn’t boil over.  Once the sugar is dissolved take the pan off the heat and let it cool to room temperature.

Take a produce bag full of basil leaves (about a pound) and stuff it in a blender with the syrup.

Blend it up and let it sit for an hour or two.

Strain it through a strainer.  Work it around with a spoon to get all the syrup through.

Strain it again through a cloth lined strainer to get more of the finer stuff out.

cooking syrup

At this point I brought it back up to a boil to thicken it.  All the fine bits of leaves immediately separated out and clumped up at the top of the syrup so I skimmed it off and decided to filter it through a coffee filter too.  This took a while but not as long as the oil.  It came out a nice golden color.

filtering syrup

After filtering bring the syrup to a low boil and evaporate enough moisture off to thicken it some.  I wanted a slightly gooey syrup.  Hint– let it cool before you touch it.

sticky finger

Stick it in a jar.

finished jars

OK Mike,  That’s nice but what do I do with the stuff?

Try the oil drizzled on potatoes- mashed, roasted whatever.

Make awesome bruschetta:  Toast some good bread, rub a raw garlic clove on it, drizzle basil oil, top w/ fresh diced tomato.

Get all fancy like and use an eye dropper to put three emerald drops just so on your plate and impress your friends.

Spoon some syrup over homemade vanilla ice cream or panna cotta.

Make some sort of fancy cocktail.  Basil and gin sounds good to me.

 

That’s what I would do…

 

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Once again we couldn’t help but show off Mike’s basil recipe with others!

Hearth & Soul Hop

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