Basil for boats! a Tasty Thursday story

Storing food on boats can be a matter of balancing what's available with available fridge space with how long something generally lasts with your given crew. There's no point, for example, in us loading up on 50 cucumbers even if our fridge could hold them (it can't, FYI) - they'd go off before we could finish them. 

Fresh herbs are tough. They're delicate, hard to find, and cherished. What a combination. So when I learned about a way to store fresh basil that was NOT in pesto, NOT drying it, and NOT in the freezer, I perked right up.

We were there on Totem, sitting in the Kuna Yala of Panama (San Blas islands, on the Caribbean side). Fresh fruit and veggies had been in scarce supply when we reprovisioned (as it were) in Linton Bay. Yeah, we picked up eggs, and onions, and a few potatoes and bananas, but nothing much else in the produce department. This night, pizza was on the menu, and who doesn't love fresh basil on pizza?

"That'd be awesome," I said, carving up fresh mozzarella, answering Jamie's query about whether I'd like some fresh stuff on the pie. "Dreaming?"

"No. We've got some." And he dug into the fridge (granted, Totem has a HUGE fridge) to emerge with a large jar of basil. Not dried. Not pesto. And not from the freezer. "Yeah, we just chop it up, cover it with oil, and store it in the fridge. This has been in there since Martinique."

My jaw hit the floor.

"Are you serious? That's it? Nothing else?"

"Nope." He casually lifted some forkfuls out, dripping as much olive oil back into the jar as he could, then draped it artfully over the pizza. "That's it."

I'm sure there must be some FDA regulation about storing food this easily, this cavalierly, but I can attest that it works beautifully*. And since a really good, large haul of basil will wash, dry, and cut down into a not very large jar . . . Maybe I need to figure out gardening again.

The green stuff? That's basil from Martinique, kept as described. Mmmmm!

The green stuff? That's basil from Martinique, kept as described. Mmmmm!

On second thought, I'll just focus on the storing of it. We all need to play to our strengths, right?

*do this at your own risk. 

Basil for boats

  • large bunch basil (or 2!)
  • olive oil
  1. Remove stems and wash and dry the leaves really well. Dry them again. And again.
  2. Chop them into ribbons, or slices, or chunks. I love the look of ribboned basil, so that's my choice. Your choice may be different.
  3. Pack into a jar, then cover with olive oil. Remove any air pockets, making sure oil covers every surface including the top.
  4. Refrigerate until needed.
  5. Make sure to top off with olive oil to cover when you use some of the basil - it all needs to stay covered.