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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bounty

A call came in a few evenings ago from Jeff's friend, Sam, asking, did we want some peaches?  An easy question to answer.  "Sure we'll take some." "Want us to come get them?" No, his wife would drop them off at our building in town about 5:30 in the morning.  Jeff gets up early to drive down the hill to get the peaches off the porch before someone decides they are community peaches. Together we wash, peel and freeze beautiful freestone peaches.

 This is the time of life where we get to reap what we sow. Whether it be through friendships we have make or actual seeds we have planted, there is a bounty of produce ready to be picked and eaten or processed for the winter months. My freezer is currently stuffed with corn,  green beans and peaches and my shelves are filling fast with jars of thick, rich, red tomato juice

Once winter comes, the corn will be the first to go. Nothing tastes more like summer than home-grown sweet-corn cut fresh off the cob and frozen. Canned corn from the grocery store doesn't come close to the taste. I'm sure I'm prejudiced but I'm also convinced that the best sweet-corn and tomatoes come out of Ohio valley dirt.  Maybe it is the heavy humidity that brings out those two vegetable's flavors.  While it is great to have the prepared tomato juice available throughout the winter, my home-canned is not that much different from store-bought in flavor.  There is not yet a way to preserved that just-picked ripe tomato taste.

My biggest crop, though is basil.  Basil and I have very complementary personalities and situations.  It doesn't like to have much watering.  I don't have much water nor the inclination to water my plants.  Basil doesn't need much weeding once it gets started and I don't mind just watching it grow.  One of he best things about basil is the processing.  There is little mess involved.  I cut off about 1/2 the plant, rinse the cuttings well, then find someplace comfortable to sit and pull the leaves off the stems. This could be in front of a movie, or it could be on the front porch listening to an indigo bunting send out messages from the tip-top of a tree.


I don't need to use my mind much when picking off the leaves. I need to pay just enough attention to the job to discard the bug-eaten leaves and the stray piece of grass that has made it through my cutting and rinsing process.
And oh, the aroma.  Basil fills my house with the scent of Italian food.  Guest's think something yummy is in the oven or on the stove.  My hands are coated with the delicious essence.  There is no dripping juice to wipe up. I don't have to wear an apron.  All in all, it is a great way to spend a day.
Once I have picked all the leaves off, they go into a large flat basket where they will dry for a few days out in the hot sun.  Each evening I bring them inside but out they go in the morning.  It takes about 3 days of hot sun to dry them.
The next step is to cut the dried leaves up then put the dried, chopped basil into jars to be used in the winter or given as gifts to friends.  I love the sound of the chopping as I rock the blades back and forth against a wooden bowl, slowly cutting leaves smaller and smaller until they are just right right.

All is completed just in time.  It looks like the apples are ripe.

1 comment:

NCmountainwoman said...

I also love basil. I make and freeze pesto and I can't imagine for the life of me why I've never dried any. Well, this year will be different.