Basil thrives in warmer temperatures, meaning harvesting usually occurs from December to May. When buying the herb, look for bunches with bright-coloured leaves, free from blemishes.
It’s best to store it in an airtight container or sealed plastic bag in the fridge. Basil leaves turn black relatively quickly after being chopped, so it is recommended you chop or tear them just before they are to be used.
Basil pairs well with a range of foods, including tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, onions, chicken, capsicum, peas and mozzarella. Genovese basil should be added to meals towards the end of cooking, as heat reduces its flavour and it can become bitter if cooked for too long. Thai basil, on the other hand, can be cooked for longer periods of time, making it a suitable choice for soups, stir-fries and curries.
You can find fresh basil at the vegetable and salad green stalls at the Adelaide Showground and Willunga Farmers’ Markets. Adelaide Showground Farmers’ Market runs on Sundays, 9am-1pm, at the Adelaide Showground, Leader Street, Wayville; Willunga Farmers’ Market is on Saturdays, 8am-12.30pm.
The Prospect Farmers’ Market has now closed, but a new Gawler Farmers’ Market is set to open on January 30 (details here).
Rebecca Sullivan (grannyskills.wordpress.com or on social media @grannyskills) has shared this refreshing summer dessert recipe, which is delicious served with local cream from the Farmers’ Market.
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
2 punnets of strawberries
½ cup castor sugar or brown sugar
Bunch of basil
Handful of lemon balm leaves
Crack of black pepper
Cream or mascarpone to serve (optional)
Wash, hull and halve the strawberries. Place in a mixing bowl.
Pour over the sugar and squeeze in lemon.
Add ripped-up basil and lemon leaves and a crack of black pepper.
Mix and leave to sit for a few hours or overnight if possible so the strawberries can infuse. They may be left for just half an hour if need be.
Top with cream to serve.
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