This month's notes: April 2016: Strawberries have a very brief season; and the start in early April in the South, don't miss them: See your state's crop availability calendar for more specific dates of upcoming crops. And see our guide to local fruit and vegetable festivals, such as strawberry festivals and blueberry festivals. Organic farms are identified in green! Also make your own ice cream - see How to make ice cream and ice cream making equipment and manuals. Please tell the farms you found them here - and ask them to update their information!!!!
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As expensive as basil pesto is in the stores, you'd think it was difficult to make; but it is incredibly easy. The only equipment you need is a food processor, blender or chopper.
Makes about 1 cup or prepared basil Pesto!
Discard any flower buds, stems or leaves that aren't in good shape. All we want are leaves; small, medium or large; as long as they are a healthy green, not brown or molding!
Just wash them in a large bowl under cold water, no soap!
If you don't have a food processor, you can use a blender, and possibly a chopper. It would be fairly tedious to do this by hand, but I'm sure it can be done that way, too.
start stuffing basil leaves (in small batches) into the food processor and
chop them into the garlic, olive oil and pine nuts.
Chop the mix until it forms a thick, smooth paste.
Did I mention you need to grate the Parmesan cheese first? Then just add it to the food processor and blend! NOTE: if you intend to freeze the pesto, leave the cheese OUT and add it when you thaw and use the pesto. Cheese doesn't freeze well.
And that is it! You're done! It should look like the photo at right -->
Adding 1 teaspoon of sugar or Stevia (or if you prefer, Splenda) to the batch really seems to bring the flavor alive. Try it and see!
The pesto will keep in refrigerator for about a week, or you can freeze it and it will last for 3 to 6 months.
A visitor writes to suggest freezing the pesto in ice cube trays. When it's frozen, just pop the cubes out of the tray and put them into a freezer bag. When you need them, just take one of two of the cubes out - so easy!
Most people serve it over pasta or use it to season fish and chicken dishes.
Can I can pesto?
Herbs and oils are both low-acid and together could support the growth of the disease-causing Clostridium botulinum bacteria. University (Clemson, University of Georgia, etc.) food science researchers do NOT recommend canning herbs .
However, herbs and herb mixtures like pesto CAN be safely frozen! Pesto is an uncooked seasoning mixture of herbs, usually including fresh basil, and some oil. It may be frozen for long term storage. That's the recommended method to save your homemade pesto for the dark nights of winter!
Also, oils may be flavored with herbs if they are made up for fresh use, stored in the refrigerator and used within 2 to 3 days. Fresh herbs must be washed well and dried completely before storing in the oil. The very best sanitation and personal hygiene practices must be used.
Remember to ALWAYS call the farm or orchard BEFORE you go - weather, heavy picking and business conditions can always affect their hours and crops!
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