From a big fluffy hamster:
The harvest has come to the north east and my parents wee garden is popping and retracting! It's here! And what to do!!!
Namely, my guru Paprikahead, I must know what to do with all of this basil! I got so big last year (almost like that cat Babette - the 18-pound monolith that frequents the Mission) that I just don't want to make the over-sized pesto. Is there a fine recipe you know to can basil? Perhaps some kind of sauce that I can later use?
Oh jeez. All of this Basil! What to do! I'd really like to use Mason Jars, too, rather than plastic bags. Plastic is so postmodern and shiny.
Salutations from the very end of Long Island,
A Big Fluffy Hamster.
Dear Big Fluffy Hamster,
First, the bad news. As a light fresh herb, basil does not can well. Think about canning lettuce.
It isn't perfectly satisfactory when frozen, either. Should you decide to freeze basil, you can lay it out on cookie sheets and place them in the freezer. When the basil is quite frozen, swiftly transfer it to a bag and keep it frozen until you want to use it. It will thaw within seconds of being removed from the freezer, and will go limp. It will be fine in cooked dishes but I wouldn't try it in anything else.
Now, some good news. Pesto will make you skinnier, not fatter. Look at it this way. Pesto is made of leaves, olive oil, cheese, garlic, nuts, and lemon juice. And a sprinkle of salt. Do you know what that is, Hamster? It's a salad. An extremely dense, mashed, raw, thriving salad. It contains not one empty calorie. You can -- and should -- eat pesto by the spoonful. Your coat will get all shiny and your eyes will be bright. In fact, if that Babette ate more pesto, she would be a svelte little mink, indeed. Furthermore, pesto does, in fact, freeze very well. (No canning -- that's cooking the salad).
One other option would be to make a basil-infused liquor: pack the cleaned leaves in a large jar, pour vodka over it, and let it sit for a week. I'm sure it will be delicious. Sadly, vodka is, of course, nothing but empty calories, and that's the problem you were worried about in the first place.
Other suggestion for our Hamster friend? Feel free to advise him.