What to do with your herbs?

The infographic below is from the fix.com blog, an informative site with lots of easy to read information about herbs and gardening. 

Here’s what Chris McLaughlin has to say:

“When beginner gardeners ask me which plants are hardy and forgiving, my answer is always herbs. If a busy gardener asks me which plants will thrive in near-neglect, my answer is herbs. When a foodie gardener asks about fast-growing plants that will feed both people and bees, my answer is herbs

Herbs are the answer to many gardening questions for good reason: they’re an incredibly versatile and prolific group – almost to a fault. In fact, many herbs can be compared to cucumber plants. By the end of the summer, they’re being given away by the bushel because no one is sure what to do with them past some basic dishes. This doesn’t have to be the case for your abundant herb garden this year. We’ve got better ideas.”


Source: Fix.com Blog

Wild and Weedy Apothecary

If you saw a book with the above title, would you pick it up and look at it?

Well… I did and now I have it here with me.

Here’s how I acquired the book- I attended the Texas Renaissance Festival with my sister-in-law earlier this month. One of our favorite shops is Creative Life Booksellers, not too far inside the front gate. The shop is filled with books, calenders, coloring books, cards, book marks, tarot cards and more on subjects as varied as dragons, faeries, pirates, Celtic history, the Renaissance and, of course, herbs.

The herb book selection is small, but there are always books I don’t have, and such is the case with The Wild and Weedy Apothecary by Doreen Shababy.

Book Cover

The book contains “recipes” for healing uses of herbs, simple teas, food recipes using herbs and a lot about harvesting and using herbs found in your own area. Then, there is an encyclopedic listing of herbs with remedies and recipes for each listing. For instance, under A, you will find the following– Alliums, Anise, Apple, Aromatherapy and Aunt Carols’s Manicotti– each with a recipe or useful commentary

The aspect of this book I like most, besides the content itself, is the tone. It’s friendly and helpful rather than pedantic or authoritative. It feels like you’re sitting at the kitchen table with Doreen over a cup of herb tea, discussing the herbs you’ve used, have growing in your yard or nearby outdoor area and herbs you’re interested in but have yet to grow or try. There’s no feeling of having to rush through this book. The information is easy to access and to use. It’s one to keep handy and think of when you’re feeling a cold coming on, flu-like symptoms, have irritating bug bites or one of your kids has a sore throat.

The recipes for food are for wholesome dishes with easy to find ingredients- or with ingredients right out of your own garden. There’s lots of family history tied up in food and recipes in general, and Ms. Shababy generously shares some of her family with us.

All in all, I consider this book a great find. I’ve been slowly going through it skipping from section to section as I think of herbs to look up or recipes to try.

If you’re into reading blogs, Ms. Shababy has one here.

One more book that is a little unusual that captures my imagination is an Almanac, as it follows the Calendar, rather than an alphabetical pattern. It is by Susan Wittig Albert, author of the China Bayles herbal-infused mystery series set in a fictitious Texas Hill Country town called Pecan Springs.

Book CoverThe book is called China Bayles Book of Days.

Each day of the year has a discussion of a particular herb, usually with a recipe or two to accompany it, often with gardening advice. There is a wealth of information in this book. You can read it year after year as the entries follow the calander and thus, the seasons, rather than any particular year.

There are myriad herb books that have been published, from Culpepper’s Herbal published in 1649, to the many colorful books of the present. Some are herb growing guides, some are food recipe books using herbs, some are strictly medicinal, some are about crafting with herbs, while many are a combination of the varied aspects of the world of herbs. Whichever is your choice, there are books to help you learn more and deepen your knowledge and appreciation of this vast world. Whatever your interest in herbs, it is all rooted in the plants, the soil, the natural world around us.

I hope you’re enjoying the holidays with family and friends.

CELEBRATE THE SEASON!

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QUOTE FOR THE MONTH
C.S. Lewis said “You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.”

I Like Tea!

Monthly Feature AUGUST 2014

I like tea! I like iced tea and I like hot tea. I like black tea. I like green tea. I like mint tea, hibiscus tea, tea with lemon balm, lemon verbena, lemon basil, lemon thyme, fennel, lavender thyme, olive leaf, holy basil, licorice root, chamomile, rose petals… you get the idea. 

Properly, only an infusion of leaves from the Camelia sinensis plant is to be called “tea”. That is the plant black tea, green tea and white tea is made from. This includes all the variations of black tea such as Oolong, Darjeeling, English Breakfast and Earl Grey, any green tea variety and the delicate white tea. All other drinks made with herbs and spices infused in water are officially called “tisanes”.

Botanical Print of Camellia sinensis
Botanical drawing from 1896 in the Wikipedia article on Camelia sinensis.

For the sake of ease and modernity, I call all infused drinks “tea”. OK- that’s settled. 

As any experienced herbalist or novice herb grower knows, making herb tea is a simple way to use herbs, to enjoy the flavor and aroma of a particular herb or blend of herbs and to extract the health benefits of an herb.

This is a terrific time of year to collect herbs for tea. Whether you live in the northeastern U.S. and are looking at a cold, snowy winter where your outdoor herbs are no longer available, you live where your herbs still look great and are full and lush looking, or you live in Texas where we’re experiencing great heat and drought right now, this is a good time to harvest and dry your herbs for winter use.

Tulsi, Holy Basil Plant

Holy Basil, aka Tulsi, growing at The Herb Cottage. A wonderful, healthful tea herb!

Continue reading “I Like Tea!”

Drying Herbs in the Fridge

Monthly Feature OCTOBER 2009

Fall or early winter, whatever you like to call it, has definitely come to much of the U.S. Snow and cold weather has already visited some parts of the nation, and here in my area, the terrible heat and drought of summer has broken to bring us cooler temperatures and much needed rain. The gardens at The Herb Cottage looked so sad all summer with droopy leaves on large plants, very few flowers for the butterflies and little growth on even the most heat tolerant herbs. Since the rains and moderate temperatures everything has grown so quickly.

Podrangea in yard

One pathway is almost blocked now by branches arching into the walkway, and the climbing rose, Little Pinkie, has almost completely hidden the trellis it’s on. Herbs have put on lots of new growth as well.

little herb bed

So, what to do with so much new growth on the herb plants? And, what about those of you who had the good fortune to harvest before freezing temperatures hit your area? Or, those of you who have yet to see a freeze, but know one is coming? Do you dry your excess herbs for winter use? Do you make Pesto with the abundant basil crop many of us have here in south Texas? Do you make wreaths to celebrate the change of season? Do you make herb vinegar to give as gifts? How about fresh herb bouquets for the table? Or dried ones if your herb plants have already frozen back?

There are so many ways to use both fresh and dried herbs this time of year. I recently attended a Wine and Herb Festival in Corpus Christi held at the South Texas Botanical Gardens. There were many talks on the different aspects of herbs, using herbs, growing and drying them. One talk I found interesting demonstrated a method to dry herbs I had never seen. Rather than just hang them to dry the herbs were wrapped in paper toweling and placed in a frost free refrigerator to dry.

The idea is to harvest the herbs, wash them if necessary and make sure they are free of water. Take about 6 sheets of paper toweling and lay the herbs out on one end of the long sheets of toweling. Roll the herbs up in the toweling. Write the variety and date on the package and put it in a frost free refrigerator.

Do not put the package in a plastic baggie as that will retard the evaporation of the water from the leaves, but leave it as is on a shelf in the fridge. The layers of paper toweling help absorb the moisture in the herbs and the frost free feature of the fridge evaporates the water out of the toweling. Eventually- in 3 or 4 weeks- you have nicely dried herbs that have retained their color and a lot of their fresh flavor.

oregano ready to roll
Here’s the oregano I picked clean and ready to roll up in the paper toweling
oregano being rolled
You can see the edge of the rolled bit at the bottom.
folding in the sides
After you get the roll going, fold the sides in so the herbs are completely covered inside the package.
ready for the fridge
Here’s the finished package ready for the fridge.

What I also liked about the presentation is the way the herbs were used after they were dried. The dried herbs were finely chopped in a coffee grinder designated specifically for use with herbs. Then, blends were made and put in shaker jars that had been saved from perhaps, purchased dried herbs.

The blends you could do are nearly endless: Italian- oregano, rosemary and basil, Greek- dill, oregano, parsley, one for poultry using sage, marjoram and thyme, one for fish using dill, lemon peel, fennel… the list is only restricted by your imagination and the type of food your family likes. Citrus peel can also be dried using the above method and you can make lemon pepper, orange basil or mint with grapefruit.

The herbs dried in this manner seem to keep more of their essential oils and color somewhat better than herbs air dried. The flavor is very fresh and pungent. Another benefit to drying herbs with this method is they stay very clean. And, they dry to a nice, crisp state.

Something that also surprised me is how the presenter dried celery leaves and ground them up and used them in a blend. If you’re not growing the cutting or leaf-type celery herb, this is a great way to get a celery flavor into an herb blend or into soup, salads and salad dressing.

I’m thinking drying some herbs this way and making special blends for gifts would be fun. Especially if you know someone who is trying to wean themselves from a diet high in salt and/or fat, a gift of a savory, tasty herb blend from your own garden may help that person on their way to a healthier diet. When drying herbs, none of the beneficial elements, including taste, are lost because those elements are in the essential oils of the leaf. And, the essential oil is what is preserved through drying. Only the water is taken out.

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QUOTE FOR THE MONTH

Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible. -Frank Zappa, composer, musician, film director (1940-1993)

Beyond Basil Pesto

Monthly Feature JUNE 2014

 

Fresh Basil in the garden.
Fresh Basil in the garden.

Pesto made with fresh basil leaves is an easy and quick way to preserve the summery goodness of basil. Frozen, it keeps for months and has so many uses. In our household, fast food is cooking some pasta and tossing it with thawed basil pesto, leftover veggies- especially roasted or grilled- and adding a green salad. Voila! Supper!

If you like using pesto to mix with pasta, to top bruchetta, add to vinaigrette salad dressings or to flavor grilled or roasted vegetables, expand your choices by making pesto with other herbs, nuts, seeds and even leafy greens. Try different combinations such as basil with parsley, parsley with spinach, cilantro with parsley, lemon basil alone or mixed with standard basil or parsley… get the idea?

You can add different oils, nuts, seeds and cheese to alter the flavor to your liking.

You don’t absolutely need an electric food processor or blender to make pesto, but it really speeds up the process. Any of the following recipes can be made with a morter and pestle. And, a food processor with its wider, shallower bowl works more easily than a blender. Either will do, though. With a blender, you just have to stop and push the food back onto the blades more often than with a food processor. Just be sure the blades have stopped turning before you stick a scraper or spoon into the jar.

Don’t do what I did one time…. and stick a wooden spoon in the jar before the blades stopped turning. The spoon was jerked from my hand, bounced out of the jar, sprayed oil and basil everywhere and broke the spoon inside the jar. I threw the whole mess away and had to start over so I didn’t have splinters in the pesto. Plus I had to wipe up oily basil from the counter, floor and other surrounding surfaces. I reiterate…. wait until the blades have stopped turning before sticking the spoon in!!! 

Any of the tradtional dairy cheeses in the following recipes can be replaced with vegan varieties, just so long as the cheese is hard enough to be grated. Seeds such as sunflower or pumpkin can be substituted for the nuts. Roasting the seeds or nuts before use will bring out their flavor.

To roast raw seeds or nuts, spread them on a cookie sheet and place in a 350 deg. oven for 10 minutes, stirring and checking frequently to avoid over toasting. Or, place the seeds or nuts in a dry fying pan, I use cast iron, on a hot burner and stir around until you can smell aroma from the oils released from the the seeds or nuts. Do not over brown. Roasted nuts and seeds can be stored in an air-tight container or frozen.

You can make fresh pesto every time you need it, but it’s very easy to make a bigger batch when the basil or other herbs and greens are at their peak.

Pesto freezes wonderfully. I like to freeze it in ice cube trays overnight then transfer the cubes to a big plastic freezer bag. One cube is one serving of pesto to mix with pasta.

Be sure to mark the bag with the type of pesto inside. Parsley, basil, cilantro, spinach and arugula can all look alike after they’re frozen!

Some people leave the cheese out when freezing pesto and mix it in after the pesto is thawed. I’ve never done that. My pesto is ready to go when it’s thawed. It tastes great and the texture and color is perfect!Following are some recipes to get you started, along with info and ideas for uses of pesto, storing and freezing. Continue reading “Beyond Basil Pesto”

What Do I Do With Rose Hips?

February 2014

Ripe Rose Hips
Ripe Rose Hips

My friend Karen Ribble, Hair Braider extrordinaire and long time friend asked me about Rose Hips last month, so I decided to write this month’s newsletter to answer some of her questions and to refresh my own memory about how to harvest, use and store them. Since it’s February, the month of Romance due to Valentine’s Day, I thought this aspect of roses would be very appropriate. 

Roses have been used for flavoring, ceremonies and health for centuries. Evidence of the use of roses dates back to 2000 BCE in Crete where drawings of roses appear on the walls of the Palace of Knossos.

fresco at Palace of Knossos, Crete
You can see the roses in the upper right of the picture.

 

From that period forward to today, roses are evident in many cultures, including ancient Rome, Persia, India and China, to name just a few. Here is a short article on some of the ancient history of the Rose.

In America, fossil evidence of the rose has been dated to some 40 million years ago. It was then that a rose left its imprint on a slate deposit at Florissant, Colorado. Fossilized remains from 35 million years ago have also been found in Montana and Oregon. Here is further information on the Rose in Amercia from Texas A&M Horticulture.

Now that we have determined Roses are a fabulous flower, some originating in the United States, wtih myriad uses, let’s concentrate on Rose Hips, the seed pods of the Rose. Oh, you didn’t realize Roses produce seed? Of course they do. Just like any flower. It’s just that mostly Roses are grown from cuttings or, now, tissue culture, that we rarely think of growing Roses from seed.

Not all Rose Hips are created equal. If you notice the pods or hips on various rose types, some are very large while others are much smaller. The large hips are the ones prized for collecting for tea and other uses. Many people think the rose that produces the best hips is the common wild rose, also known as the Dog Rose.

rosa rugosa with hips
Photo courtesy of Maine Organic Farmer and Gardeners Association

 

 

Other roses produce hips, of course, some larger or smaller, some tastier than others. As always with collecting plant parts from the wild or your own garden, make sure they have not been sprayed or treated with an insecticide or pesticide.

Rose hips are traditionally collected in the fall, after they turn red. They’ll be sweeter after a frost, but it is not necessary to wait for a frost to collect them. Many people who grow roses never see the hips or seed pods because they dead head the flowers when they fade. To produce the hips, the flowers must be left on the plant to wither and die on their own so they produce the seed pod.

immature rose hips
Immature Rose Hips- you can see where the flower was on the end of the hip. Don’t they look like little green apples? Well, Roses are related to apples, so it’s no accident!

 

immature rose hips

Ripening Rose Hips

Photos courtesy of CharmaineZoe

Ripe Rose Hips. You can see the seeds inside.

ripe rose hips with seeds
Photo courtesy of Mother Earth Living

Now that we’ve established what Rose Hips are and where and when to collect them, what the heck do you do with them? Are all parts of the Hip edible? Well… not really. The seeds generally have lots of little hairs around them that are irritating to the mouth and can cause internal itching if quite a few are ingested.

Most people rid the seeds of the hairs by first drying the hips. Then, pulse them in a blender or food processor- or if you don’t have one, you’ll have to pound them a bit. The idea is to break up the dried hips into pieces about the size of coarse sea salt. Then, place the broken pieces of the hips in a strainer and shake it. You’ll see dust and the little hairs fall out. That’s it! There may be a few hairs left, but that won’t hurt you. Just keep shaking and stirring the dried hips in and around the strainer to get out as much of the dust and other parts that will fall through the strainer as possible. Then, you can store the hips in an air-tight container for later use.

Recipes using Rose Hips

Continue reading “What Do I Do With Rose Hips?”

Parsley, Herb of Many Uses

Newsletter from February 2015

Sometimes common herbs become overlooked in favor of more exotic and “newer” varieties. Parsley is one such herb. Petroselinum crispum, Curly Parsley and Petroselinum crispum var. neapolitanum, Italian Flat Leaf Parsley are common as dirt yet much more nutritious and versatile. Parsley is used in food and drinks and is a work horse in the herb garden. Here in my area of Texas it’s often used as a winter border with hardy annuals such as pansies and violas. It reliably holds up to our winters, although our summers can cause it some grief.

Parsley

Let’s look at how to grow parsely. I have people tell me they cannot get Parsely seed to germinate. There are various reasons for that. One common reason is using old seed. By that I mean seed stored a long time- even 2 year old Parsley seed will have low germination rate. So, if you’re growing from seed, be sure to use current year’s seed if purchasing the seed. If you’ve saved seed from the previous season, that seed should germinate well.

Parsley Seed PackageYou can always test the germination rate of the seed by placing about 10 – 20 seed on a damp paper towel or cloth, put it in a plastic bag and keep it at about 70 deg. F. Parsley is slow to germinate and can take 14 – 21 days. Check your seeds after about 2 weeks and keep an eye on them. If after 3 weeks you have no or very low germination, replace the seed. You can always toss the seed into a garden bed. A few might surprise you and come up.

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading “Parsley, Herb of Many Uses”

Easy Herb Recipes

Here are some hints to help you incorporate fresh herbs into your cooking

~ Rub chopped, fresh herbs like marjoram or lemon basil into fish before grilling
~ Add a teaspoon of chopped, fresh basil or dill to a cup of mayonnaise for a special spread
~ Sprinkle omelets with fresh minced herbs before folding, or add to scrambled eggs. Try herb and cheese combinations like feta cheese and oregano, or Parmesan and basil.
~ Add a teaspoon or so of chopped mint to a pot of split pea or lentil soup.
~ Rosemary and lemon basil or lemon thyme go great with chicken.
~ Sprinkle chopped, fresh herbs such as Mexican Mint Marigold (Mexican tarragon), parsley or dill on your green salad before tossing

Basic Herb Butter

1/2 pound butter, softened

1 tablespoon fresh chives
1 tablespoon fresh parsley
1 tablespoon other fresh herb
or a combination of 2 or 3 herbs

Chop herbs very fine with scissors or chef’s knife, or in a food processor. Work butter with spoon, rubber spatula or fork until smooth. Stir in finely chopped herbs. Taste, and add more herbs if flavors are not strong enough. Keep in mind, that flavors will develop more fully with several hours of storage. Be sure to remove any large stems. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.

Note: herb butters may be melted for use, but take care when heating, especially when broiling, as fresh herbs burn easily.

Experiment with other additions such as:

  • Lemon Juice
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Dry Mustard
  • 1-2 Cloves Crushed Garlic
  • Paprika

 Use your own judgment to determine amounts. Start small, you can always add more.

Taste often.

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Basic Herb Salad Dressing

1/4 c. wine vinegar
1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon mustard (Dijon-style or prepared)
2 to 3 tablespoons freshly chopped herbs*
1/2 c. good olive oil
1 garlic clove

Blend all ingredients, except the garlic, thoroughly with a whisk or fork. Let the flavors blend at room temperature. Rub the salad bowl with the freshly cut halves of the garlic clove. Add washed and dried assorted crispy greens. Pour the whisked-up dressing over the greens and serve promptly.

*Try equal parts basil, parsley, thyme and oregano
OR equal parts basil, savory, thyme
OR thyme, chives, basil
OR try your own combinations.

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Fresh Tomato and Herb Sauce

For maximum flavor, don’t overcook this sauce, but thoroughly squeeze the seeds and juice out of the tomatoes so it won’t be watery .

3 1/2 pounds Roma tomatoes
1/2 c. good olive oil
1/2 c. chopped fresh basil
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 c. chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
3 tablespoons fresh chopped mint
1/4 c. chopped chives
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 c. red wine vinegar

With a paring knife, slice a cross in the skin in the bottom of each tomato. Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for about 1 minute. Drain, then plunge them into a bowl of ice water to loosen the skin; squeeze gently to peel and remove seeds and excess juice. Dice the tomatoes, then puree half of them in a blender or food processor. Heat the oil, diced tomatoes, tomato puree in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the remaining ingredients and cook just until heated through.

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Lemon Balm Quick Bread 

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup lemon balm leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  •  1/8 teaspoon salt
  •  1/2 cup milk
  • grated rind of one lemon
  • Grate the lemon peel and remove the juice from the lemon. Reserve the juice for the glaze.

Cream butter, sugar, and finely chopped leaves. Add eggs and beat well to get a smooth consistency. Add remaining ingredients (flour through lemon rind). Pour into one large or four miniature greased loaf pans.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes if using a large pan or 25-30 minutes if using miniature pans.

Before removing from the pans, use a toothpick to prick holes in the crust.

Pour Lemon Balm Glaze over the top while the loaves are still warm.

Allow to cool completely before removing from the pan. Loaves can be frozen for later use.

LEMON BALM GLAZE

• 1/2 cup sugar

• 2 tablespoons finely chopped lemon balm leaves

• juice from one fresh lemon (about 4 tablespoons)

~~TIP:

To avoid having bits of chopped herbs in the bread, steep the chopped leaves in the liquid for a half an hour or so. If you heat the liquid first, then add the herbs, the flavor develops more fully. This liquid can then be stored in the refrigerator for later use, or used right away in the recipe.

Herbal Vinegar

To make herbal vinegar is very simple. Take a clean jar…..I like to use either a quart or pint canning jar because the mouth is wide enough to easily add the herbs. Fill the jar with the herbs of your choice. For a pint jar, about 2 cups of fresh herbs is enough. For a quart jar, 3 – 4 cups will work.

Then fill the jar with the vinegar of your choice. Wine or champagne vinegar is great, although costly when making a lot of vinegars. Next best is rice vinegar. You can usually find it in large containers (such as 1 gallon) at an Asian grocery. The cost is quite a bit lower than purchasing the vinegar in small quantities. As a last resort, you may use regular white vinegar…….the kind used for canning. It’ll give your vinegar a sharper flavor. But, it’s better than no herbal vinegar at all!!!

Harvest your herbs in the late morning after the early dew has dried, but before the heat of the day really sets in. The volatile oils are at their peak at this time. If you live where it’s dusty and the herbs need to be washed, swish them in a container of water briefly, then let them dry before making the herb vinegar. If it’s practical, wash the plants off the day before you plan to harvest them. Then, you don’t have to wash them the day you are making the vinegar.

Let the infusion steep for about 2 weeks. Then, pour off the vinegar, straining particles out if necessary. Now you can fill decorative bottles or any bottle of your choice with the flavored vinegar, adding a sprig or two of fresh herbs for looks.

Flavored vinegar should be stored in a dark place or at least out of direct sunlight. Experiment with some of the combinations below, or make up your own. Think of flavors that sound like they’d taste good together. Most of all, do it and have fun.

Herbal Vinegar Ideas

Continue reading “Herbal Vinegar”

Easy Pesto

 

  • 2 cups clean basil leaves (you can use all one variety or mixed varieties, according to your taste)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup nuts. Pinenuts are traditional, but I use pecans because they grow here on our farm.
  • 1/2 cup grated hard cheese such as Parmesan or Romano, or a blend.
  • 5-8 cloves of garlic, according to your taste
  • Approximately 1/2 cup olive or other vegetable oil. This amount can vary depending on how much cheese and nuts you put in.

 

Food Processor:
Add all ingredients and process until you have a smooth, well-mixed pesto. The consistency should be similar to that of mayonnaise.

Blender:
This is a little more work than using a food processor, but makes an equally delicious pesto.
Place about a quarter of the basil leaves in the jar adding 1/2 cup oil, the nuts and cheese. Blend (I use the puree setting or high setting.)
You’ll need a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to push the mixture down onto the blades fairly often. —Don’t do what I did one time…. and stick a wooden spoon in the jar before the blades stopped turning. The spoon was jerked from my hand, bounced out of the jar, sprayed oil and basil everywhere and broke the spoon inside the jar. I threw the whole mess away and had to start over so I didn’t have splinters in the pesto.

In other words…. wait until the blades have stopped turning before sticking the spoon in!!!

After you have that first mix pretty well blended and the nuts are well ground, just keep adding the basil leaves about a handful at time until all the leaves are used up. If the mix is too thick, add a little oil to thin it down.
It doesn’t have to be perfectly smooth. In fact, I like the pesto a little coarse so I can see the leaves, but the nuts should be well ground.

To preserve the pesto, I fill ice cube trays with the mixture and freeze it over night. The next day I remove the pesto cubes and store them in a plastic bag or tub in the freezer. One cube is one serving.

Pesto can be made with other leafy green herbs. Parsley mixed with basil is tasty. Cilantro and parsley is very good, too, especially with chicken enchiladas or even Indian food like curry.