SadhviSez: Preserve the Harvest Now to Enjoy Later


I had a lot of Basil plants that I’ve been using in salads all summer long…if you keep pinching back the plant, and never let it start to flower, it becomes very bushy and full.  Which means, more Basil!  Notice how I capitalize the word: Basil.  It’s like a good friend, and I cannot imagine my life without it.

The other day I heard someone say it’s going to get cold, so I harvested all of my plants to make my version of “pesto”, knowing that with just one cold night, all that lovely taste inside those leaves would be gone, and therefore wasted.  I never really FEEL like doing these kinds of things, I just somehow start to move in that direction, and IT happens on it’s own.  I must have it in me from my Slovenia grandma or something. Or maybe from my other grandma, Mabel Carter?  Both women had gardens, sewed their family’s clothes, and both put food up for the winter months.


So I got out my Cuisinart food processor, started to pluck Basil leaves (never stems), added olive oil and a little salt, and then blended until I got the consistency that makes it pourable into clean glass jars, labeled them, and voila!  A base for pesto that will last a long, long time if it’s kept covered with olive oil, and in the back of the fridge.  Just let it sit for an hour or so, to make sure the olive oil comes to the top to “seal” it, which preserves it.


I had grown hundreds of pots of different types of Basil my first year that I started to garden, way back in the spring of ’94.  I had never gardened before that.  I was too busy with my “life”.

Then we got into a terrible car accident, and I slowed down.

And started to paint and to garden.

I didn’t know how to do either before the accident.

That first year I grew Thai Basil, I grew Purple Basil, I grew maybe 10 different types of Basil.  And you know what?  I only grow 2 types nowadays.  The Genovese Basil and the Greek Basil.  The other ones are interesting, but really, I don’t waste my energy on them, because the taste is only in those 2 I grow!

After harvesting all those different types of Basil that first year, I mixed them with garlic and pine nuts and olive oil and salt and put the mixture in sterilized glasses.  Much to my horror, after a month in the fridge, they were all moldy and had to be composted – my heart almost broke in two!  All that work for nothing.  Well, being the type of person that has to make a big mistake the first time I do something, I’ve since been told how to do it the right way.


So here’s a very simple way of preserving Basil from Martina, my Swiss-Italian girlfriend.

Martina told me to never add the garlic and the nuts.  Only do that when I am making the meal, she said.  This is the way her Italian grandmother taught her and I’ve been doing it this way every single year since, which makes this year my 15th year.

1.  Take a big pot and fill with water and bring to boil and then add the pasta.

2.  While that’s cooking, take a big mixing bowl and spoon out some of the “Basil, Olive Oil and Salt” into it.  Let it sit on the counter for a while, and then, take a paper towel and wipe the sides of the inside of the jar, removing any of the mix, and make sure it’s covered with some olive oil; not a lot.

3.  Add some fresh-pressed garlic cloves and some chopped walnuts or pine nuts (or whatever nuts you have), and mix.

4.  Once the pasta is “al dente”, ladle out some of the water from the pot and mix in with “Basil, Oil, & Salt”/garlic/nut mix until it’s the way you like your sauce.

5.  Drain the pasta, rinse, and add to the mix and toss.

Grate lots of the best Italian Parmesan cheese you can afford, get a good bottle of red wine, put some Frank Sinatra music on, and maybe a candle or two, and savor the taste of summer, preserved!
p.s. if you want to see how other people make and preserve their pesto, Culinate, which is one of the food blogs that I subscribe to, shares their tips.  Just Click This!


About Sadhvi

Sadhvi's trying to find the balance in life over 50 without having any surgery, taking any pills, or killing anyone. She doesn't want to look or feel the way she felt when she was 20 or 30. Trusting that everything is really OK unless you think about it helps her make it through each day. Also realizing that nothing can be done, and, that nothing matters really helps. Gardening (and weeding), poppies and flowers, painting on things, baking, and sharing on Oops50 helps to make it all right too.

17 thoughts on “SadhviSez: Preserve the Harvest Now to Enjoy Later

  1. Sadhvi:

    Hello – I met you today at the WNC Asheville Farmer’s market and bought the mint spray. We talked for a few minutes and I so enjoyed our conversation, even if I seemed to be quiet (as you know the reason why of course!).

    I am looking forward to perusing this blog.

  2. Oh thanks Sal! Without children, I have had lots of energy in my life. So what to do except things that please me, like gardening and cooking? And being the best realtor in Asheville, well, I guess that’s a matter of opinion, and I am grateful for you being a great client. They all aren’t you know! And thanks for being a fan of our blog, and my posts!

  3. You never cease to amaze me Sadhvi with all your gardening and cooking and then being the best Realtor in Asheville, NC. It seems that you always let your love of life flow through yourself into IT. Sorry about not posting on Oops 50 as I got hacked through my email and all my e-friends got weird mail from me. What a nightmare. Then with redoing the house – it’s like moving out and then moving back in. At our age we think by Christmas we may have the home back to somewhat liveable condition. Hugs from us!

  4. Hi Janet,
    Did you get some fall planting in? I just squeezed in some onion sets, some swiss chard, some kale, and some winter lettuce, oh, and mache, in. I hope I get some salad before it turns really cold. This year seems to be throwing me for a loop…it feels like it’s later than the first of October.
    Wishing you well!

  5. Hey Ramapada, would love to hear more of the conversations between your Noona and Uncle Alberto! Wanna be a regular writer for the site?
    Just email me what you want to share, and a picture of you in a wig, and I’ll take care of the rest.

  6. Hi Sadhvi–

    Thanks for the tip. I cut all my basil on Saturday-put it in water in a huge vase and enjoyed for a day or 2–then Sam made pesto–we freeze in small portions(ice tray cubes in zip lock bags) and have had a lot of success in keeping for 6 months or so.

    I love your idea about the basil puree without other ingredients and will try next year. Hope all is well!!


  7. You can freeze it with all the goodies…my Nonna and my Uncle Alberto used to have this argument which would start with, “Eeeh, a meal without pesto is lika life without Amore”. Uncle Alberto, a Napolitano, he liked the oil…Granny, a Piedmontese, she’d say “Use-a the freezer…we no have that in the old country..” Easy-peasy….

  8. Hi Pam,
    Will be interested to hear of any tricks for storing…sweet potatoes! We have so many from the market. I will have to investigate and experiment and see, but really, if you have any tips, I would be happy to hear them.

  9. Hey Sadhvi,
    Thanks for sharing this great way to use the last of the basil we still have growing on the deck! We were just saying yesterday that we should make some pesto. We have tried freezing pesto in small portions in the past and you’re right – it tends to get freezer burn before we get to it all. Putting the basil/oil/salt mix in a jar in the fridge will get us to use it up sooner, instead of forgetting that it’s there in the freezer, only to find it after it’s lost it’s flavor.
    And we agree – the Genovese and Greek are by far our favorites. Thanks for all the plants you have shared with us!
    With gratitude and blessings,

  10. Hi Sadhvi – Thanks for these tips. You and any of your followers who like good, healthy eating might also enjoy subscribing to my daughter-in-law Rachel’s Website, The latest post on her blog contains three fabulous pesto recipes, red pepper, tomato, and basil. Yum!

  11. Jane…isn’t it a good feeling when this type of synchronicity happens? Let me know how easy was it to make the “Basil, Olive Oil, and Salt” pesto base.

  12. Hi Cathy,
    I wonder if Grandma Carter ever had Basil in her garden? I wish I was into gardening back when she was alive and kicking: there is nothing more enjoyable for me these days than to talk to a fellow gardener about the garden. Do you have a garden?
    Let me know if so, and what do you have to plant every year.

  13. This is from my friend, Ellie, who reads the posts but is not sure that she wants to log in, etc. to comment:

    Hi Sadhvi,
    I took my basil & put it into a tall vase to make it last. Hope it lasts forever! I make pasta every week just with lots of basil & can of whole tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and a little salt/pepper, brown sugar & some hot sauce. Yum! I can eat it for breakfast, lunch & dinner. Thanks for sharing.
    Love ya, Ellie

  14. Sadhvi, this is great! We had just picked a bunch of basil when this showed up in my email! Thanks for writing this. Jane

  15. Hi Mary Rose,
    I know you could freeze it, in fact, I think the link at the bottom for that Cuisinate food blog freezes. I just don’t like to freeze things that I can preserve in oil. I know a lot of folks who do that though, in which case you could add all the other ingredients, like garlic and nuts.
    I don’t freeze cuz it eventually gets freezer burns…and you should see the collection of “Basil, oil, and salt” that I have in the back of the lower shelf of my fridge…it’s like a little village. Or like a good wine cellar.
    At any rate, yes, do something that comes easy for you to preserve it for later!
    Much love to you,

  16. Sadhvi:

    Sounds like a fabulous project for me to do tomorrow. We have huge basil “bushes” now. Do you think that the mixture could be frozen for even longer storage?
    PS, Love your painting. Happy & sunny, like you.

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