This morning saw the last harvest of the basil plants in our greenhouse. I have harvested the basil all summer. It has been a bountiful and generous plant to us. With the last harvest I dried one giant bowl-full of leaves in our food dehydrator, and after crushing the dried leaves down into a pint-sized mason jar it amounted to about 8oz. of dried basil.
Never have I felt that a dried spice was such a treasure. Looking at that measly 8ounces, which may last only a month or two of roasted chickens, I realized how much I had been taking dried spices for granted. To create that 8oz. of dried product I had spent probably several hours planting, watering and caring for the plants. I had kept a consciousness about it, in other words, I had made mental space for those plants so I would not forget them as I had previous years, and learned the lesson that when you forget about your basil plants you only get a fraction of the harvest that you could if you pay attention. (They go to seed and then it’s over.)
Is it even worth it? I wondered, considering I could buy dried basil in bulk at the Co-op or even from Costco where I get my giant containers of chili powder. Yes because at least now I look at dried spices differently. Maybe now I can appreciate the labor others put into dried spices. Also, I am sure it will be delicious. And each time this winter we eat something spiced with our basil, we’ll remember the summer rays of sunshine and smile.