You can also tie up bunches of basil and hang them to dry in a well-ventilated area or freeze basil by itself. Whole leaves can be frozen in water or chopped basil in oil and freeze in ice cube trays. Basil will last up to six months in the freezer. Fresh basil can be added to tomato sauces and canned. Remember: Dried herbs are much stronger than fresh, and it won't take as much to flavor your dish.
One surprising way to use basil is with fruit. While the idea may have you scratching your head or even shaking your head in disgust, those flavor compounds that I mentioned earlier match well with the flavor compounds found in fruit. I've seen recipes for basil fruit sorbets, salads and more. Asian cultures use basil seeds in fruity sweet drinks.
Wet basil seeds become surrounded with a gelatinous coating and resemble, to me, frog eggs. While I appreciate the concept of a basil-seed drink, the look and feel of drinking frog eggs are less than appealing.
One of my preferred pairings is basil and peaches, because they are in season at the same time. I'll share my recipe for a sweet basil cream to drizzle over fresh, roasted or grilled summer peaches or your favorite fruit.
Honey Basil Cream Yogurt Sauce
1 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
8 large basil leaves
PROCESS in a food processor until smooth. Adjust sweetness as preferred. If a thinner sauce is preferred, add milk until desired consistency is reached.
John Porter is the WVU Extension Service agent for agriculture and natural resources in Kanawha County. He may be reached at john.por...@mail.wvu.edu or at 304-720-9573. Twitter: @WVgardenguru.