Last Pesto of the Season

Last Friday I finally got around to picking basil. It would be the last big picking of the season, so I’d put it off for several days. The nearly full four-cup measure sat on my counter for several days more. Same reason: this was going to be the last pesto of the season, and who wants to admit that this is it for another year?

This morning I got on with it. My basil plants have been generous, and letting their bounty wilt into mush seemed ungrateful. Yes, I’ve already got three times more pesto in the freezer than I did this time last year, but even a single girl never has too much pesto, and if I ran out in April I’d be really annoyed with myself.

(Some of the) dirty dishes

Out came the old blender and all the stockpiled ingredients: parsley, parmesan, butter, olive oil, walnuts, and garlic, lots of garlic. Making pesto means making a mess. That’s one thing I like about it. Another thing is licking my fingers, and the knife I use to tamp things down in the blender.

My blender is neither fancy nor new. It works, but it needs a little coddling, especially when I get lazy about trimming all the stems off the parsley and they wind around the blades. When the motor starts to labor, I give it a rest. A blender could do worse than to give up its life in the making of pesto, but my blender aspires to become an antique.

Last pesto

Pot licker

Making pesto — OK, cooking anything — means doing some fancy footwork to avoid tripping over or stepping on my sidekick, who lies close enough by that he can grab whatever falls from the counter before I can pick it up. Basil and parsley do not interest him; parmesan and walnuts do. Pre-washing pots is a specialty. This one had melted butter in it. The trick is to get it away from him before he starts carrying it around the room.

What’s left on my basil plants might season some spaghetti sauce, but the pesto season is now officially over. My garden is still incubating a bumper crop of green cherry tomatoes, however, the fruit of the plants I started from seed very early in the summer. The few that have ripened already were delicious. In August, the tomatoes ripened so fast I was hard pressed to eat them all. September sunlight doesn’t work like that. Evening temps are dipping down to the low 50s, and — a couple of nights ago — the high, very high, 40s. Will these guys ripen before the first frost?

I think I see some color on the bottom-most one in this photo.

About Susanna J. Sturgis

Susanna edits for a living, writes to survive, and has been preoccupied with electoral politics since 2016. She just started a blog about her vintage T-shirt collection: "The T-Shirt Chronicles." Her other blogs include "From the Seasonally Occupied Territories," about being a year-round resident of Martha's Vineyard, and "Write Through It," about writing, editing, and how to keep going.
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4 Responses to Last Pesto of the Season

  1. susan robinson says:

    The word on the street is cherry tomatoes respond happily to rooting–you’re on the right track!


  2. susan robinson says:

    Your home sounds so enlivened and cozied by these tasts and smells, especially since they can be reviviedat a moment’s notice throughout the year.


  3. Sharon Stewart says:

    Your pesto looks delicious! I guess you haven’t chopped up any wooden spoons in your blender yet (and not likely to, since you use a knife instead). I’ve added splinters of both wood and rubber to my various concoctions.

    We have had zero tomatoes so far. Not likely to get any now, either. Very sad.

    Sharon in Ottawa


    • I lost a wooden spoon a few months because I foolishly gave it to Travvy to lick. In about 3 minutes he turned it into a stirring stick. A plastic or rubber spatula is also good for tamping things down and scraping the sides. I really should have taken more time to trim the parsley stems — now I’m picking them out of the pesto . . . I’m rooting for those cherry tomatoes, but first frost is getting closer and closer.


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