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Monday, July 16, 2012

Preserving Basil Like Nana........

My Italian grandmother taught my mother ( her daughter-in law) to preserve sweet basil with salt and olive oil.   Each summer my mother would make her one and only jar for the year.  The jar would sit in the back of the refrigerator where upon every Wednesday a leaf or two would be taken out very gently with the very tip of a fork, so as not to disturb the salt and layering.   Next, the basil leaves  would be placed into the pot of simmering sauce on the stove.  

I made my first jar of the summer today and I would be thrilled to share this simple way of preserving your own sweet basil.  You will need the following, a clean small jar, kosher salt, basil and extra virgin olive oil.
  1. Strip all the leaves off the basil stalk,  put them in the salad spinner bowl and rinse well.  Spin  until they are dry. 
  2. Pour a good amount of kosher salt in the bottom of the jar.   
  3. Cover the first layer of salt with the basil leaves. Pack each layer of basil down well.  Then continue with the salt, basil layering. 
  4. When you get to the very top of the jar,  cover with your last layer of  salt
  5. Pour the extra virgin olive oil over the whole thing using a spoon to press down all the basil leaves. Make sure all the basil is covered by the olive oil.   Store in the fridge.  
 Sometimes the basil leaves might turn dark green.  Not to worry, the basil is still safe to use and still very tasty in the sauce.  You can also use a little bit of the salt that clings to the leaves as the seasoning in your sauce. 

    44 comments:

    1. What a great method. I love historical recipes that you know you can count on to turn out just right. Basil is so difficult to save over into the winter and this would taste so good in spaghetti.

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    2. Oh thank you! I have been trying to figure out a way of keeping my basil (other than drying) for use during the year. It really is best in my sauce when it's fresh. This is great!

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    3. Thanks for sharing this method of preserving basil,it will be so useful over the winter months. How nice that it is a handed down family recipe too - all the more special.
      Gill xx

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    4. I have never heard of this! Its wonderful for so many reasons, and one is I can now preserve the basil before I can use it all. And I have a fabulous canning jar that will be perfect for it.
      Thank you!
      xx
      julie

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    5. Wow! What a wonderful way to store basil. Thanks so much for sharing!!

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    6. This looks AMAZING!! I just came back from Italy with two large basil plants so am definitely going to give this one a try!!

      How long will it last for? the year?

      xx

      Xanthe

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    7. What a neat idea! Thanks for sharing this family tradition:@)

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    8. That's a great idea, how nice to remember the women in your family.

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    9. this is perfect - we have tons of basil in the garden - delicious
      mary x

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    10. What a wonderful way to preserve it and I bet it tastes much better than the dried variety.

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    11. What a terrific post! I love it when you share something from your family.
      Hope your well honey
      Love
      Maggie

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    12. Wow, I can't wait to try this! This is one for the cookbook!

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    13. Wow this is a great way to preserve basil!
      Thanks for sharing!

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    14. I am so excited to give this a try! I love ideas like this. Thanks for sharing it with us!

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    15. What a wonderful thing to have to season with. It lasts a year in the fridge? That is awesome. It looks so pretty in your jar.

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    16. I love this! and your photos are beautiful too...

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    17. Wow! I never knew you could do this. Next time I go to the farmer's market, by golly, I'm going to buy some basil and try this. Thanks so much for the tip. Good for your Italian Grammie, too, to pass this on. Susan

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    18. THANK YOU. THANK YOU I wanted a way to keep my basil with out having to dehydrate it.I love fresh Basil in my dishes.

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    19. I have a bumper crop of basil this summer so I will definitely try this! I usually crop it and freeze it in ice cube size cubes but this will be a nice way to preserve the whole leaf without chopping.

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    20. Just wanted to give everyone a heads up. I am doing another game and giveaway.

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    21. Some of the best recipes are ones passed down through the generations! What a fantastic way to preserve basil. I'm just wondering how long will it keep for? You mentioned your mother had it for the year? That would be brilliant.Thanks, Nessa.

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    22. Τhis is a great way to preserve basil. Thanks for sharing it with us!

      Z.

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    23. This is great - I've got bushes of basil and I really didn't know what to do with it all! lovely post :)
      Mary x

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    24. So beautiful.
      I love the old fashioned way of preserving, being passed down to the next generations.

      Love the jar that you've used also!

      Smiles :)
      Kerin

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    25. Lovely, lovely, lovely! I will have to give this a try if we get enough garden basil this year. Thank you for sharing.

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    26. do you know how much salt to use throughout the jar? Or does it matter?
      Sounds wonderful...
      Nancy

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      Replies
      1. I try to use enough to just barely cover each layer. My mom use to use a lot more than I do. The basil will turn darker as it sits the the fridge, but it does not lose any of its flavor.

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    27. What a great method of keeping that wonderful basil going and it looks so pretty in your glass jar-a feast for the eyes and the tummy!

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    28. I have a lot of basil this year I am going to give this a try. Does it last all winter long?
      Cathy

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      Replies
      1. Hi Cathy, the basil will tend to get darker and not as crisp, but it still maintains all the wonderful flavor of fresh basil. Thanks for visiting!

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      2. 'Crisp' basil? Is it not Iceberg lettuce?

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    29. OH! How very clever! I love it! And ... may I say, your photography is as fresh and green as that beautiful basil?

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    30. Thanks so much for this! Something I will definitely try! I'm new to your lovely blog - I found you through Pear Tree Log. Really looking forward to your future posts :) I would love it if you get a minute if you pop by my blog. Maggie xx

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    31. This is fabulous! I look forward to trying it.

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    32. Keeping a family tradition alive that goes back to the turn of the last century in Sicily; May I suggest that missing from this process is letting the picked basil dry and wilt over night after picking. Water is the great demon of this process the object is to replace the water in the basil leaves with the essential oils of the basil and the small amount of olive oil. Layer the wilted basil witht the salt ad all the while pressing the contents of the jar to squees the water out of the basil while it is being layerd. Let the product set for a few ten or more minuites after the jar has been filled. Then when you think you have gotten all the water out, fold up a paper towel and blot the water while pressing the towel into the jar. To get all the water out continue pressing and blotting by inverting the jar with additional paper towels. The salt has displaced tbe H20m you have removed it as the final step put a quarter inch of extra virgin olive oil on the top of the contents. this will be absorbed over time. My family has used this process for generations. The basil flavor is intense. It is surprising how much basil you can press ito a little jar. the reward is that it last for years in the refigerator.

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      1. Thank you so much for the tips. I will certainly follow your suggestions the next time I make a jar, which will be before summer is through. If you have anymore tips on preserving or anything Italian please comment again. I appreciate all kinds of family traditions and family recipes. Thanks again, I can't wait to try your method!

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    33. Hi, I have to expand on the salted oiled basil I wrote about above. It was ubiquitious in my childhood and now my home. It was also a staple in my mom's home growing up a an imigrant family of 6 kids on the lower east side of Manhattan. As a nite time snack afew leaves of the prepared basil, chopped, 2-3 sliced cloves of garlic, sauteed in olive oil over a lb of linguini served with locatelli; fantastic. As a variation I have used this as a base and added 7-8 chopped plumb tomatos and 2 lbs of cleaned medium shrimp, quick process accomplished while the linguini is boiling,finish with a few pats of butter. Served over linguini it is a croud pleaser. The preserved basil adds a unique, distinctive basil flavor that sets itself apart from either fresh or dried.
      Dennis

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    34. Thank you so much. I will make your recipes and I'm sure I will love them, Shrimp is something we love to eat at my house. My grandmother and grandfather came to America from Italy when they were teenagers and father was born here in Massachusetts. You should have a blog, I bet you have the best recipes. Thanks again, it was kind of you to respond so quickly.

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    35. I really want to try this as I have lots of basil in the garden. My only question is, I have found that when extra virgin olive oil is in the fridge it tends to get solid. Is that what happens with your basil jar? Just want to make sure it is ok to use for an extended period of time. Thanks

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      Replies
      1. The oil will get hard,but that ok. Thanks for visiting.

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    36. We have so much basil. I will definitely try this!

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    37. Loved this post and also the suggestions from anonymous. I can't wait to try this. A nice way to remember summer when there is snow on the ground.

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