Monday, September 26, 2011

pesto and pickled plums

Another preserving night - this time canning the spiced plums which I made up a few days ago ( plus finally dealing with the basil in the garden (and from Taproot last week). The plums look great, but only made two jars, and there was yet more syrup - so we took a risk and canned two jars of apple chunks too. (I figured if crabapples tasted good, then regular apples should work as well.) The apples came out of the hot water canner looking a little mushy, so it might be a spiced apple syrup or sauce we got - but they also look very pretty, since the plums had coloured the syrup a beautiful glowing red.

I've been meaning to make pesto for a while, since the basil in our garden looked to be nearing its best-before date, so this evening Ria and I picked most of the basil. Pesto is a very simple recipe, and is definitely a money-saver if you make your own in season, rather than buying jars. We make a batch then freeze it in ice-cube trays (try to remember to spray the tray with olive oil first; the pesto comes out more easily) and eat it all winter long.

The recipe I use is a combination of a few, with the aim of lots of basil and less oil or expensive pine nuts:
1 c very packed basil leaves
1-3 cloves garlic (depending on their size and your taste)
2 T grated Parmesan cheese
1 T pine nuts
2 T -ish of olive oil
2 T lemon juice
1/4-1/2 tsp of salt (depending on your taste)

Toss everything in a blender and puree. You may need to use a little more olive oil to get the blender blending - you will also have to push the basil down occasionally with a wooden spoon to make sure the blender keeps chopping. (Don't do this while the blender is running, or you will have woody pesto ... yes that's the voice of experience speaking.) Taste and add whatever is missing, then freeze in small quantities.

You can substitute walnuts or other nuts for the pine nuts, and you can also combine other herbs with the basil.


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