Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Making Basil Bouquets

This job falls into the category of my Specialty Harvesting responsibilities. While the crew of five guys out in the field takes on the majority of the harvest with their strength and endurance, I get to jump into the rows closest to the farm stand to gather up light, pretty and specialty products including basil bouquets.

Lee and I have seeded so many varieties of basil I am not sure of the total number. Somewhere in the 5-10 range. So the basil selection is diverse. There is traditional Italian Genovese, purple, lemon, Greek, spicy, bush, variations on each of these, etc...

When the market time is right, stems are cut to mix together for a diverse blend of basil that is fragrant, beautiful and functional. Basil bouquets are a component of the CSA this week so this is my first round of large scale production. They will also go to the Ferry Plaza throughout the summer season and may always be available to farm stand customers who know to ask.

On the right is a portion of my basil bunching operation. I harvest boxes full of individual types and then organize all the components for a large scale assembly of basil stems. This is really more efficient than running around harvesting a little bit of each at a time.

It is a fun little specialty harvest job because I get to apply some creativity to my work, much like bundling flowers. Each bouquet is unique and perfect in it's own way.

CSA members enjoy your basil this week. Garnish everything with some first-of-the-season basil flavor, stick the stems in a vase to make them last, share the diversity of types with your friends and family. If you find flowers on a few of the stems, add them as edible flowers to your salads. Basil flowers can be viewed as a nuisance to be pruned away to encourage more new growth if you are a grower, but also can be appreciated for a different form of basil flavor in the kitchen. It is just another component to the diversity.

Enjoy your basil!

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