The serious preserving season is upon us now, and the sweet feelings we felt towards the first tender vegetables of the season have long since gone. I’m not sure I need to see another green bean for a long while, to be honest. This summer was incredibly dry, which had its upsides. The bugs weren’t that bad, for one. However, the acorns seem to be dropping very early this year, and as I write this on the porch I can see a yellow leaf from the linden tree gently falling to the ground. It doesn’t bode well for colorful fall foliage–a dry summer means early leaf drop.
I’ve already pulled most of the cucumbers, mostly because they seemed finished. This dry summer did them in– they became bitter because of my uneven watering, I must admit. I have never tasted anything so bitter! This year’s cucumbers were also sneaky. I lost many a cucumber to gigantism. I know–there are ways to pickle even those large yellow sneaks, but I’ve done it before and I don’t feel it’s worth the investment of time. Into the compost they go. The potatoes are all up, and buckwheat has been sowed in their place to help out a new patch of garden soil I opened up this year. The potatoes break up the soil, and the buckwheat will bring nutrients. And so it goes.
This year’s garden was the most unambitious yet, mostly because I felt like the garden needed a rest. I barely had any tomato plants (well, there are nine–six were given and three were volunteers–but who’s counting?), and I devoted large patches just to herbs. For almost ten years I have been gardening this patch, and I thought that now would be a good time to give it, and, truth be told, me, a rest. I already feel success in that I am looking forward to next year’s garden. I hope the soil feels the same.
I am quite busy with work these days so the preserving I do for the home must be tamed. When I am outrageously busy it’s often something I bring upon myself. How many times have I not been able to resist a half-bushel of fruit one minute, only to be petrified later by the hours ahead that I must devote to putting it up. Restrain yourself, I say to myself. It gets easier as one gets older and tireder.
One of the things I need to attend to is the basil. There is quite a bit of basil. I know some folks could eat pesto all the time, but I’m not one of them. I do love it, but the jars of it loaded in the freezer seem to lose their luster after a few months. This year, to take care of the glut of basil I have, I did my typical armchair preserving and made basil salt. Simply take a few large handfuls of clean, dry basil and maybe a half cup of kosher salt and blend them together in the food processor. I was scared this was going to turn black, as basil often does, but it stayed bright green. Keep it in a jar in the fridge. It has been delicious sprinkled on tomatoes, eggs cooked any way, and I’m sure it will be helpful over the winter, seasoning already canned tomato puree and a top of many a pizza. A little goes a long way, maybe all the way into next summer.